Zephyr is a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) UAS/UAV, running exclusively on solar power.
This unmanned aircraft provides affordable, persistent, and local satellite-like services
- Endures like a satellite,
- Focuses like an aircraft and
- Is cheaper than both of them.
Why choose Zephyr?
Maximized surveillance capability: provides affordable, persistent, and local satellite-like services.
Versatile: can be used for a range of military, security and civil applications.
Fast reactions: provides real-time images and video, under all weather conditions.
Easy to control: can be controlled remotely anywhere in the world.
Eco-friendly: runs exclusively on solar power, both day and night.
Proven capabilities: holds several world records for the longest and highest flight, for example.
Zephyr is the World leading High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) – a solar powered aircraft that,
flying autonomously in the Stratosphere above cloud, air traffic and jet stream winds, provides
persistent, regional services at significantly lower costs than conventional aircraft, UAVs or
The Prototype vehicle, Zephyr 7, has flown for over two weeks continuously, eight times longer
than any other UAV and is the only solar powered UAV to have flown at the stratospheric altitudes
required to allow continuous operation.
Zephyr World Records
- FAI 16052 – Absolute Duration – 336h 22m 8s
- FAI 16053 – Duration in Class
- FAI 16054 – Altitude – 21,562m
Setting World records for endurance and altitude in 2010, which remain unsurpassed, and
completing further long duration flight testing, Airbus have completed testing with this prototype
and are now building the first operational vehicles – Zephyr S.
MAKING THE WORLD’S BEST BETTER
Whilst Zephyr 7, as the World’s only proven HAPS system, is already the World’s best HAPS,
Airbus have already identified and tested a significant number of ways in which the aircraft has
been improved to produce the first operational vehicle, Zephyr 8. As well as reducing the mass,
improving the efficiency and increasing the power available from the solar array and batteries,
which enable the aircraft to fly year round at higher latitudes, Zephyr S is also capable of being
flown beyond line of sight (BLOS) using a low mass, low power satellite communications system.
This deceptively simple concept requires that the aircraft be fully autonomous in its navigation,
flight control and power management – operating in a similar way to Airbus’ satellites but with the
added complexity of the atmosphere.
This satellite like approach to operations means that the cost of operations of HAPS is significantly
reduced when compared with conventional UAVs and aircraft. Added to the long duration flight
times – reducing cost of refurbishment and increasing time on station – and the zero fuel usage,
shows solar powered HAPS even greater cost savings.
Zephyr S is now in production with the first order having been made by the United Kingdom
Ministry of Defence.
Flying at 20km altitude at a fixed location, Zephyr can see over 400km to the horizon and provide
persistent high resolution imagery and high bandwidth communications to areas in excess of
Whilst flying at 20km is high for an aircraft, it is very low for Airbus satellites, which fly at over
600km altitude to provide imagery of the Earth. This means that the Zephyr can produce very
accurate pictures of the Earth – down to 15cm resolution – using small, lightweight cameras.
And, of course, these pictures can be produced all the time, even as video or, using infrared
technology, at night.
Radar systems are also in development to allow Zephyr to provide 24/7, all weather surveillance,
making best use of the persistent presence.
Most regions of the World do not enjoy the communications provided by Fibre optic, wireless and
4G networks. The Geo-stationary Satellites that provide communications to these regions fly at
36,000km above the Earth and as such are limited by their capacity and latency – increasingly
important with the continuing demand for greater bandwidth and speed.
HAPS operating at 20km altitude can provide fast, high bandwidth communications to these
regions, which can then be linked together by radio or laser links – where the thin air and lack of
clouds makes optical links much simpler.
Zephyr has already demonstrated communications relay over a 400km range and Airbus are now
using their proven satellite communications expertise to develop broadband systems suitable for
Download brochure: Zephyr – Focus of an aircraft, endurance of a satellite