"We are extremely grateful to the Government of Western Australia and the Shire of Wyndham and East Kimberley for their support of the Zephyr programme. The combination of that support, largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather makes Wyndham an ideal location for these operations."
Tony Fraser, Managing Director Airbus Australia Pacific
Wyndham airfield will be the world's first operational site for the launch and recovery of the class of unmanned aircraft known as High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS). The innovative Zephyr project is exclusively run by solar energy and the aircraft is extremely lightweight and makes virtually zero noise as it leaves and returns to its base.
The WA State Government has been working with Airbus since February this year to support the implementation of Airbus Defence and Space's HAPS program to establish the site development at Wyndham Airport.
"From my meeting with the company in March, I was very impressed with the proposal and Airbus' international reputation. The technically advanced nature of the project will also help build Western Australia's profile in the aerospace, defence and innovation spaces," said WA's Premier Mark McGowan.
The Zephyr HAPS project is a solar-powered aerial platform that flies at more than 65,000 feet to provide a range of earth observation services and communications connectivity for people in remote areas, including for civil, military or humanitarian purposes.
The Zephyr S which will fly at Wyndham is the production version of the earlier Zephyr 7 aircraft which holds the world record for 14 days continuous flight, set in 2010. It weighs less than 75 kilos and flies by charging its batteries from sunlight during the day and maintaining its high altitude at night, all under control from the ground. The first production aircraft are being manufactured at Farnborough, UK.
Tony Fraser, Managing Director Airbus Australia Pacific said:
“We are extremely grateful to the Government of Western Australia and the Shire of Wyndham and East Kimberly for their support of the Zephyr programme. The combination of that support, largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather make Wyndham an ideal location for these operations.”
Airbus will begin flights in the second half of this year.