The solar drone Zephyr, a marvel of aeronautical technology, crashed a few hours from the record for the longest flight in history. Designed by UK company QinetiQ and developed Airbus Since 2013, the Zephyr drone has accumulated flight duration records, and notably holds a record of 25 days and 23 hours of flight at high altitude (19,000 meters). Despite its state-of-the-art design and numerous successes, the Zephyr crashed in mid-June after two months of flight (64 days exactly), just hours from the record for the longest flight in aeronautical history. . This information was not reported until the end of August.
The Zephyr solar drone measures nearly 25 meters in wingspan and weighs nearly 75kg
The Zephyr was flying over the southern United States and the Gulf of Mexico when the crash occurred. The flight data of the device indicates a brutal descent of 1,385 meters per minute, a fall whose causes remain unknown at this stage of the investigation. A representative of Airbus specified that an analysis of “1,500 hours of data from stratospheric missions” was in progress. This first big failure of the Zephyr also challenges the American Air Force, a stakeholder in the project since its recovery by Airbus.