Airbus ‘drone’ smashes endurance record by staying in air for nearly 26 days
Airbus Defence’s solar powered UAV, the British-built Zephyr S, has smashed the existing endurance record for unrefuelled, unmanned flight by staying aloft for 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes.
Taking off from Arizona, US on 11 July, the maiden flight of the production Zephyr S HAPS (high altitude pseudo satellite) almost doubles the existing endurance flight record of 14 days, 22 minutes for UAVs, set by a previous Zephyr prototype in 2010.
An application has been made to establish the flight as a new world record.
The flight was supported by the UK government and “reflects the UK Ministry of Defence’s position as the first customer for this innovative and potentially game changing capability.” Airbus said.
The solar-powered Zephyr UAV, which weighs less than 75kg, flies at 70,000ft, above air traffic and weather, to provide a new class of platform for persistent surveillance, observation, communications relay or connectivity for military or commercial customers.
“This very successful maiden flight represents a new significant milestone in the Zephyr programme, adding a new stratospheric flight endurance record which we hope will be formalised very shortly.
We will in the coming days check all engineering data and outputs and start the preparation of additional flights planned for the second half of this year from our new operating site at the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia” said Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus.
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