Airbus Zephyr

Airbus Zephyr crashes before breaking 64-day world record

Airbus Zephyr

A high-altitude Airbus Zephyr drone crashed just hours before breaking a 63-year-old flight endurance record.

The Zephyr had been aloft for 64 days and was close to the world record set by a Cessna 172 Skyhawk in 1959, 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, 5 seconds. Cessna relied on a moving truck on the ground to refuel.


Nobody knows why the Airbus Zephyr crashed. The last moments of the Zephyr (callsign ZULU82) were tracked to 50,000 feet above the Arizona Desert; according to Airbus Defence. After an S-turn, it descended at 4,544 feet per minute before crashing.
The Zephyr doesn’t need refuelling like the Cessna; instead it uses solar panels and a 53-pound lithium-ion battery. As the drone flies at 76,000 feet. Therefore, it escapes most weather situations; and the solar panels power the propellers and recharge the battery for nighttime use.

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Airbus offers the Zephyr as a HAPS with military, commercial, and institutional customers. It’s approved in five nations on four continents and seems most beneficial for boosting communication networks or high-altitude photography.


I doubt many Zephyr purchasers will be alarmed about this crash, given how long the drone had flown without incident. Airbus may already know what went wrong and be working on a repair for the next attempt to break the record.

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