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Airbus Defense and Space touts Zephyr aircraft

Airbus Defense and Space is bannering its high altitude pseudo-satellite program as it seeks potential partners and customers for a Zephyr 8 aircraft.
By Richard Tomkins   |   April 25, 2014 at 8:32 AM   |   Comments

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TOULOUSE, France, April 25 (UPI) -- Potential partners and customers are being sought by Airbus Defense and Space to participate in a high altitude pseudo-satellite program, or HAPS.

Those recruited would jointly demonstrate their payloads and applications on the company’s Zephyr 8 HAPS platform, an aerial vehicle that runs on solar power at very high altitudes and fills the gap between unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites.

The Zephyr HAPS was developed initially by QinetiQ of Britain. Airbus Defense and Space, which began its own HAPS research project in 2008, acquired the assets of the program and incorporated its designers and engineers into its HAPS “incubator” unit.

The Zephyr is made of carbon-fiber material and uses solar power to charge its lithium-sulphur battery. It has a wing span of nearly 74 feet and a service ceiling of more than 70,000 feet. It can carry a 5 pound payload for observation or communications relay and weighs, fully loaded, just 116.8 pounds.

Zephyr 7 achieved a flight endurance of 14 days.

"I am delighted with the progress," said Jens Federhen, Airbus HAPS program manager. "We are now building the next generation of Airbus Zephyr that will allow customers to test payloads and applications. We are ready and look forward to demonstrating its unique capabilities to customers in flight."

"Zephyr 7 is demonstrably years ahead of any other HAPS system and we spent last year analyzing and designing exactly what we need to improve it" added Airbus Zephyr Technical Director Chris Kelleher. "We received permissions to fly and have flown Zephyrs in Australia, USA and Europe, and now have a well-defined flight and safety procedure that has already been accepted by four major test ranges."

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