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The era where internet access is no longer seen as a luxury but is readily available to the majority of the population, irrespective of their location or the lack of physical infrastructure, is gradually approaching. The age when billions of people worldwide can effortlessly connect online is set to emerge thanks to AALTO Zephyr’s promise of The Stratospheric Age.

Zephyr, the most persistent fixed-wing High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) on the planet, is set to reshape the future of communication and observation. It has emerged as a game-changer in a world where connectivity is an indispensable aspect of daily life.

The team’s years of labor are evident in the Zephyr 8’s remarkable wingspan of 25 meters and a maximum take-off weight of less than 75 kilograms. Furthermore, it is capable of reaching altitudes of 75,000 feet in the stratosphere. Its most notable achievement thus far was a continuous flight lasting 64 days, completing a distance of 140,000 nautical miles. The aircraft is designed for long-lasting performance and is equipped with two compact electric motors, solar arrays installed on the wings, and batteries that allow it to operate continuously.

AALTO Zephyr

Stratospheric Connectivity

The Zephyr provides unmatched Earth observation and connectivity capabilities, poised to revolutionize the aerospace sector by offering advanced capabilities such as persistent, high-resolution photography and low-latency direct-to-device services.

It boasts a coverage area of 7,500 square kilometers— equivalent to 250 ground towers— functioning as a terrestrial tower in the sky, seamlessly integrated into the networks of mobile operators. The D2D technology enables direct communication to devices, providing low latency 5G without requiring expensive user terminals or ground infrastructure.

AALTO Zephyr

Furthermore, Zephyr can also provide scalable connection with latency of less than 10 milliseconds, which competes with terrestrial infrastructure and outperforms satellite alternatives, while in the stratosphere. Mobile network operators (MNOs) now have the ability to extend their network coverage to underserved locations, thereby improving the quality of their services, attracting more customers and increasing profits. Tower companies are expanding their range of services by including economically superior stratospheric solutions, which provides them with new opportunities for growth.

Earth Observation Capabilities

The Zephyr aircraft can be equipped with Airbus' OPAZ payload, specifically developed for operations in the stratosphere, allowing the aircraft to capture up to 18cm of electro-optical imagery and up to 70cm of infrared imagery. Zephyr's Earth observation capabilities, aided by Airbus Intelligence, are unparalleled in their ability to provide near-real-time, high-quality video.

Zephyr offers both high resolution and frequent revisits, unlike satellite-based options that sacrifice one for the other. The persistence of this technology enables the observation of an area for several months, making it useful for applications such as forest fire management, precision agriculture, and insurance evaluation.

The aircraft carries out heavy-duty tasks and ensures emission-free flights by relying exclusively on solar power. This environmentally friendly technology not only preserves and enhances human lives but also demonstrates a deep regard for long-term sustainability, demonstrating that AALTO’s dedication to the environment is equally strong as its expertise in connectivity.

Solutions Beyond the Surface

Government agencies can benefit significantly from Zephyr’s flexibility, scalability and adaptability, providing them with tailored solutions for Earth observation and connection. With the help of Zephyr, government agencies can effectively respond to many occurrences, ranging from wildfire prevention to disaster aid and border control.

AALTO Zephyr

AALTO is actively working on obtaining accreditation for the Zephyr program, while also establishing industrial and operational plans. The company, which is a subsidiary of Airbus, intends to obtain certification from the UK Civil Aviation Authority by the end of 2025.

AALTO will also establish its AALTOPORTs globally, which will serve as both launch and recovery sites, as well as provide facilities for production and maintenance. Six ports are being considered for development around the world with the inaugural port situated in Kenya due to its favorable weather conditions and equatorial location, which will optimize the charging of solar panels during flights.

Zephyr's landing is also designed to be debris-free, further proof of AALTO’s dedication to sustainability. AALTO Zephyr is a product of combined expertise, representing the integration of advanced technology, connectivity, Earth observation, and a strong commitment to the well-being and sustainability of our planet.


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