07 Dec 2018

World’s first Zephyr HAPS operating site opens in Australia

The world’s first High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) flight base to serve the Zephyr UAV has officially opened in Wyndham, Western Australia.

With access to unrestricted airspace and reliable weather conditions, the Wyndham site is ideally placed and represents a significant investment by Airbus into its much-anticipated Zephyr programme.

For the uninitiated, Zephyr is a solar electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), able to harness the sun’s rays and run exclusively on solar power as it soars above weather systems and conventional air traffic alike. It will also fill a capability gap, supporting satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft by providing persistent local satellite-like services.

“I am delighted to welcome the Airbus team and their Zephyr project to Western Australia,” said Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan. “This is the culmination of almost a year of hard work by Airbus and my Government to bring this exciting and innovative technology to our state. The Zephyr aircraft provides new capabilities to commercial and military customers and will bring an economic boost to the East Kimberley region.”

Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus, added: “The official opening of the Airbus Wyndham launch site in Western Australia, the world’s first operational HAPS site, marks the start of a new era for Zephyr. We are proud to see Australia become part of the Zephyr operational network. The site is our gateway to the stratosphere and will be the main flight base for Zephyr going forward.”

According to Airbus, Zephyr will introduce new see, sense and connect capabilities for commercial and military stakeholders. It has the potential to revolutionise disaster management by monitoring the spread of wildfires or oil spills. It will also provide persistent surveillance, tracing the world’s changing environmental landscape and will provide communications to some of the most unconnected parts of the world.

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