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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

The aviation industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters so companies around the world are trying to find new ways to power aircraft.

 

Recently I talked about SolarStratos, a company that’s looking to produce “the world’s first commercial solar aircraft,” and a couple of weeks ago on the other side of the world a solar powered aircraft from the European aerospace giant Airbus completed a maiden flight lasting 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes.

 

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The new Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite) took off from Arizona and went on to complete “the longest duration flight ever made,” Airbus Defence and Space said in an announcement Wednesday who also submitted an application to confirm the flight as a new world record.

 

Airbus promo reel (no sound and yes, it gets boring after 40 seconds)

 

The unmanned aircraft, a 75 kilogram Zephyr, offers what Airbus describes as “local satellite-like services” and runs exclusively 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.

 

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“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, especially as other industry giants, including Boeing and Rolls Royce begin to eye the start of electric flight, in part thanks to new battery advancements, in 2030.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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