AeroVironment Successfully Completes Sunglider Solar HAPS Stratospheric Test Flight, Surpassing 60,000 Feet Altitude and Demonstrating Broadband Mobile Connectivity

October 07, 2020
  • Sunglider reaches stratospheric altitude in 20-hour test flight
  • Successfully demonstrates broadband mobile communication on consumer smartphones, linking teams in Tokyo, New Mexico and Silicon Valley

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 7, 2020 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announcedthe Sunglider™ solar-powered high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) achieved key test milestones, including reaching an altitude of more than 60,000 feet above sea level and successfully demonstrating mobile broadband communication. Sunglider’s development and testing is funded by HAPSMobile Inc., a joint venture majority-owned by SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) and minority-owned by AeroVironment.

During the test flight, which began at 5:16 am MDT on September 21 and concluded at 1:32 am MDT on September 22, the AeroVironment team piloted Sunglider to a stratospheric altitude of 62,500 feet above Spaceport America in New Mexico. Sunglider successfully achieved major test objectives relating to propulsion, power systems, flight control, navigation and datalink integrity, as well as structural performance during the most turbulent phases of the flight as it entered and exited the jet stream.

The broadband communication demonstration successfully linked teams in Tokyo, Spaceport America and Silicon Valley using an LTE payload jointly developed by Alphabet’s Loon LLC and HAPSMobile. Employing standard LTE smartphones, a team at Spaceport America conducted multiple video calls via the Sunglider’s payload while the aircraft circled for more than five hours in the stratosphere.

“In less than three years AeroVironment and HAPSMobile have made incredible progress, developing two Sunglider solar HAPS unmanned aircraft and performing five consecutive flight demonstrations, culminating in this latest significant milestone,” said Wahid Nawabi, president and chief executive officer of AeroVironment. “Reaching stratospheric altitude, maintaining continuous flight for more than 20 hours, achieving key test objectives and demonstrating seamless broadband communication illustrate the tremendous potential HAPS technology offers to expand connectivity globally. We look forward to maintaining our momentum toward aircraft certification and commercialization, working in close partnership with HAPSMobile as we establish a disruptive capability that offers tremendous value creation potential.”

The Sunglider, a solar-powered HAPS, has a wingspan of 262 feet and is propelled by 10 electric motors powered by solar panels covering the surface of the wing and rechargeable battery packs, resulting in zero emissions. Flying at an altitude of approximately 65,000 feet above sea level and above the clouds, the Sunglider can carry payloads weighing as much as 150 pounds and is designed for continuous, extended missions of months without landing.

To view footage from the Sunglider solar HAPS stratospheric test flight, click here.


About AeroVironment, Inc. (AV)

AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) provides technology solutions at the intersection of robotics, sensors, software analytics and connectivity that deliver more actionable intelligence so you can proceed with certainty. Celebrating 50 years of innovation, AeroVironment is a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems and tactical missile systems, and serves defense, government and commercial customers. For more information, visit www.avinc.com.


Safe Harbor Statement

Certain statements in this press release may constitute "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are made on the basis of current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, economic, competitive, governmental and technological factors outside of our control, that may cause our business, strategy or actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, our ability to perform under existing contracts and obtain additional contracts; changes in the regulatory environment; the activities of competitors; failure of the markets in which we operate to grow; failure to expand into new markets; failure to develop new products or integrate new technology with current products; and general economic and business conditions in the United States and elsewhere in the world. For a further list and description of such risks and uncertainties, see the reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We do not intend, and undertake no obligation, to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


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