Airbus Defence and Space has announced that a team comprising engineers from the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and the Airbus Zephyr programme has successfully completed the first civil flight of the Airbus Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS).
The flight, completed last week in Dubai, achieved the highest altitude ever reached in the United Arab Emirates, 61,696 ft., and by completing a full day / night cycle of operation also recorded the longest flight of any aircraft within the UAE.
The flight was approved by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) and represents the first time that a HAPS operation has been authorised by a civil authority. “DCAA are proud to have been able to support EIAST and Airbus to complete the first flight of a High Altitude pseudo-satellite in the UAE.” said Michael Rudolph of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) and then explained the importance of the operation, “By working closely with EIAST, Airbus, DCAA, Sheikh Zayed Centre and our military Air Force colleagues we have been able to complete not only the first flight of such a novel air vehicle but also safely manage a flight to above 60,000 feet close to one of the three busiest airports in the world. This shows that Dubai and the DCAA hold a leading position in developing and implementing procedures and policies for the safe and efficient operation of UAVs within the region”
Sarah Amiri, EIAST Programme manager for the Advanced Aerial Systems Programme said “This has been an outstanding cooperation between Airbus, EIAST and the Dubai CAA and we are delighted that within a few short months we have integrated, tested and flown such an advanced unmanned aircraft and been able to demonstrate a number of applications that are critical to Dubai and the wider world.”
“The flight in Dubai demonstrated the ability of Zephyr to operate in regions of the world’s most crowded airspaces”, said Chris Kelleher, Technical Director of the Airbus HAPS programme. ”I am immensely grateful for the support and diligence of the Dubai CAA and other authorities in working closely with the combined EIAST Airbus Team to ensure a safe and successful stratospheric flight. With all systems working well in temperatures ranging between +40oC and -80oC and up to a maximum altitude of 61,696ft, this flight further reinforces confidence in Zephyr for users and regulators.”
Jens Federhen, Head of the Airbus HAPS programme, highlighted the importance of this most recent flight for the Airbus programme: ”Airbus has long recognised the value that HAPS can bring to important civil applications such as resource management, environmental monitoring and support to emergency services and it was critical that we demonstrated that the Zephyr could be operated under civil jurisdiction to enable these services to be offered. With the support of the Dubai CAA, EIAST has shown, for the first time anywhere, that such operations can be undertaken in the civil domain.”
EIAST and Airbus now intend to work together on the development of more advanced HAPS systems and payloads and, through further demonstrating safe flight operations, to enable these systems to provide essential services to the civil and commercial markets.