by Richard Tomkins
Toulouse, France (UPI) Feb 18, 2016
Airbus Defense and Space has received an order from Britain's Ministry of Defense for its solar-powered Zephyr 8 unmanned aerial vehicle.
The Zephyr 8, described by Airbus as a high-altitude pseudo-satellite craft that provides persistent surveillance and communications links for about a month at a time before it needs to land for refurbishment.
Its altitude ceiling is about 65,000 feet. Its wing span is about 72 feet, and it weighs about 30 percent less than its predecessor, the Zephyr 7.
Solar panels on the aircraft charge its batteries from sunlight during the day and maintain the aircraft's high altitude at night.
Airbus said Britain ordered two of the aircraft. Other contract details were not disclosed.
The first Zephyr 8 ordered is being built at an Airbus facility in England and is due to fly in mid-2017.
Russian Helicopters tests unmanned tiltrotor aircraft
The aircraft was made by VR-Technologies, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters. The company says government agencies and oil and gas companies have showed interest in the project.
"The development of the unique aircraft started in 2015," VR-Technologies CEO Alexander Okhonko said. "Since then, we have achieved significant results and have already started the first stage of flight tests."
Russian Helicopters first revealed the tiltrotor unmanned aerial vehicle project during the MAKS International Air Show in August 2015. The product will be able to make vertical takeoffs and landings while carrying passengers or cargo at faster speeds than traditional helicopters.
The flight test was conducted as part of Russian Helicopters' adopted Speed program, which aims to create a flying test bed to better determine design layout efficiencies for products.
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