A solar-powered aircraft from the European aerospace giant Airbus has completed a maiden flight lasting 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes.
The new Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite) took off from Arizona on July 11 and went on to complete “the longest duration flight ever made,” Airbus Defence and Space said in an announcement Wednesday. An application has been made to confirm the flight as a new world record.
The unmanned aircraft, a 75 kilogram Zephyr, offers what Airbus describes as “local satellite-like services” and runs on solar power. It operates in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 70,000 feet and has a wingspan of 25 meters.
“This very successful maiden flight represents a new significant milestone in the Zephyr program, adding a new stratospheric flight endurance record which we hope will be formalized very shortly,” Jana Rosenmann, head of unmanned aerial systems at Airbus, said in a statement.
“We will in the coming days check all engineering data and outputs and start the preparation of additional flights planned for the second half of this year from our new operating site at the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia,” Rosenmann added.
Solar-powered aircraft offer an intriguing glimpse of what the future of aviation could eventually look like. In 2016, the Solar Impulse 2, a manned aircraft powered by the sun, managed to circumnavigate the globe without using fuel. The trip was completed in 17 separate legs.