Airbus has launched a connectivity services business through the creation of a dedicated High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) Services Business based around Zephyr, Airbus’ high-altitude pseudo-satellite.
This will help enable it to provide low-latency connectivity services from the stratosphere for telecommunications and Earth observation applications. The new business is a subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, and Samer Halawi has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer with Taz Esmail as Chief Financial Officer.
Zephyr is a solar electric stratospheric UAV that flies above the weather and conventional air traffic in a space between satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide persistent local satellite-like services. It is able to accommodate voice and data communications payloads and operate at an altitude of 65,000 feet (19,800 metres) for between 14 and 40 days.
“With thousands of flight hours in the stratosphere and an admirable entrepreneurial spirit, the Zephyr team are well placed to develop future connectivity services. This is an exciting time for the team, building on our success with the leading HAPS, and it is now time for the next step,” said Halawi.
“Our connectivity services will provide a viable alternative and complement to terrestrial and satellite-based connectivity solutions, allowing for the first time low-latency and direct-to-device connectivity across vast geographies, and economically. Our sustainable technology allows us to save and improve people’s lives whilst ensuring a better outcome for our planet," added Halawi.
The Zephyr, which underwent extensive testing in Western Australia, set a new world record for absolute altitude for this class of UAS at 76,100ft.
The Zephyr team is based in Wyndham, WA, a site chosen for its largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather.