Airbus’ Zephyr S High-Altitude-Pseudo-Satellite, has surpassed the current flight endurance record of an aircraft without refueling of 14 days, 22 minutes and 8 seconds and continues to pioneer the stratosphere.
The Zephyr aircraft departed for its maiden flight from Arizona, USA on 11th July 2018. This first flight of the Zephyr S aims to prove and demonstrate the aircraft capabilities, with the final endurance record to be confirmed on landing. The landing date will be confirmed once the engineering objectives have been achieved.
This flight is being supported by both the UK and US governments and reflects the UK Ministry of Defence’s position as the first customer for this innovative and potentially game changing capability.
Airbus Defence and Space unveiled the new Zephyr S to the world at Farnborough Air Show on July 16. The Zephyr S is the first production aircraft of the Zephyr programme, previous Zephyr units being Research and Development prototypes. Until today, the Zephyr aircraft has logged almost 1,000 solid hours of flying time.
Zephyr is the world’s leading, solar–electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It harnesses the sun’s rays, running exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic; filling a capability gap complimentary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide affordable and persistent local satellite-like services.
In future, Airbus will be flying Zephyr S from their new operating site at the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia. This has been chosen as the first launch and recovery site for the Zephyr UAV due mainly to its largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather. The site will be operational from September 2018.
The company recently opened production facility named after the late Chris Kelleher, the inventor of Zephyr. The facility is part of a significant focus by Airbus on the Zephyr programme. The Kelleher facility represents the first serial HAPS assembly line worldwide.