Zephyr: Between sky and space
With a wingspan of 25m, weighing just 75kg and capable of continuous flight for months at a time, seventy thousand feet above the Earth, Zephyr is Airbus’ ground-breaking stratospheric Unmanned Aerial System.
The unique aircraft has broken multiple world records including the longest duration flight, which clocked in at 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes.
In 2018, Airbus opened the world’s first High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) flight base in Wyndham, Western Australia to serve as launch site for Zephyr. Neither aircraft nor satellite, Zephyr incorporates the strengths of both. By flying above the weather and conventional air traffic, it can provide persistent local satellite-like services for commercial and military customers. Running exclusively on solar power, its flight time is also entirely carbon neutral.
Zephyr is an adaptable solution that offers many new see, sense and connect capabilities. These include a range of continuous surveillance applications and high-resolution image/video capture. By putting sensors in the stratosphere, Zephyr can readily detect changes in the environment, gathering precise data that has the potential to revolutionise disaster management, including monitoring the spread of wildfires or oil spills.
Zephyr is also capable of extending the reach and capacity of terrestrial telecoms networks, with one aircraft providing the coverage equivalent of 250 cell towers. In a world where four billion people are still unconnected, Zephyr has the potential to connect even the most isolated parts of the globe.