Zephyr is a series of lightweight solar-powered UAV originally designed and built by the United Kingdom company, QinetiQ and is now part of the Airbus High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme.History
The Zephyr 7 holds the official endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle for its flight from 9 July to 23 July 2010, lasting 336 hours and 22 minutes (2 weeks / 14 days). Record claims have been verified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) for both duration and altitude, at 21,562 meters. It more than doubled the previous endurance record for unmanned flight.
In a 2008 demonstration for the US military, a smaller-scale version of the Zephyr (Zephyr 6) performed beyond the official world record for the longest-duration unmanned flight, however its 82-hour flight at an altitude of 61,000 feet did not set an official record because FAI officials were not involved in the flight.Design
It is of carbon-fibre construction, and uses sunlight to charge a lithium-sulphur battery during the day, which powers the aircraft at night. The aircraft has been designed for use in observation and communications relay.
The vehicle can circle over a particular area for extended periods. The military uses the vehicle for reconnaissance and communications platforms. Civilian and scientific programmes use it for Earth observation. During the day, Zephyr uses its state-of-the-art solar cells spread across its wings to recharge high-power lithium-sulphur batteries and drive two propellers. At night, the energy stored in the batteries is sufficient to maintain Zephyr in the sky. The lithium sulphur batteries are supplied by Sion, and the first version had a battery capacity of 3kWh.
Zephyr 7 is bigger and requires five individuals to launch, as opposed to three previously. The team runs gently into the wind until it lifts out of their hands. Zephyr 8 is now under development and will be bigger still, with a 28 metre wingspan.
The Zephyr system was sold to EADS Astrium (now named Airbus Defence and Space) in March 2013 where it has successfully re-flown as part of the High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme. In 2014 it flew for 11 days in winter, and later near civilian airspace.Flight
The 53 kg Zephyr typically climbs to about 40,000 ft on its first day, and then maintains between 60,000 ft and 40,000 ft thereafter.Technical specificationsCrew:
2.5 kg (5 lb)Length:
22.5 m (73 ft 10 in)Height:
53 kg (116.8 lb)Powerplant:
2 × 450W Newcastle University custom permanent-magnet synchronous motor, () eachCruise speed:
30 knotsService ceiling:
exceeds 21 km (70,000 ft)