QinetiQ's Zephyr solar aircraft double award by IET

10 Nov 2011

QinetiQ’s Zephyr team has been honoured by the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) for their world record breaking work on a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle UAV by winning both the awards for Emerging Technologies and Product Design at the prestigious IET Innovation Awards event held in London on Wednesday 9th November.

The judging panel commented:

"The Zephyr takes a giant step towards the goal of eternal flight - the concept of which is fascinating, exciting and with enormous opportunities. This design ticks all the boxes - social impact, novelty, inventiveness and it could have a dramatic impact economically. The entire aircraft design has been considered and optimised - power, weight, sensors, propulsion in order to make the prospect of 'near-eternal' flight a realistic possibility. High altitude performance in the presence of varying thermals and pressures has been achieved. On top of this, it has already captured the world record for the longest duration flight of an unmanned aircraft (over two weeks) and has redefined what was believed to be achievable. A clear winner"

The Zephyr platform is a flagship UK-developed technology which has already achieved three official world records, including absolute flight endurance of 14 days, 22 minutes, 8 seconds, in 2010., This achievement saw the 22metre wing span Zephyr craft remain aloft for over two weeks and soar to altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet.

Using solar power and state of the art rechargeable batteries with a total mass of only 50kg, the Zephyr is capable of hosting commercial communications and remote camera payloads for months at a time. It promises formidable advantages in defences and security roles as diverse as persistent wide area communications relay, missile detection, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and maritime patrol.

Following the record breaking flight in 2010, the Zephyr team has been engaged in fully validating and optimising the design and performance of the system, placing it in a unique position to provide reliable operations with a wide range of payloads and under different conditions.

Chris Kelleher, Chief Designer of the Zephyr UAV expressed his delight at the award:

“It is a great honour for the QinetiQ HALE team to be recognised by the IET for development of the Zephyr technology and design, following our World Record 14 day first flight of the novel aircraft. We look forward to developing Zephyr truly persistent, wide area stratospheric military and civil services across the world, offering capabilities well beyond existing satellites and aircraft. We are particularly pleased with these awards, given the very high quality of the other finalists.

Neville Salkeld, Managing Director, Technology Solutions Group at QinetiQ commented:

“The team have undertaken a world class programme of applied technology, and we are delighted to have this innovation recognised by such an august body.

We are particularly pleased that the team has not only achieved the desired performance, but have demonstrated such a complete understanding of how the system works and can be developed to meet even more applications and markets in future. We now need to build on this work to ensure that the technical achievement is exploited to its fullest extent commercially, and I am working with the team to accelerate progress"

Notes for Editors:

A FTSE250 company, QinetiQ uses its domain knowledge to provide technical support and know-how to customers in the global aerospace, defence and security markets. QinetiQ's unique position enables it to be a trusted partner to government organisations, predominantly in the UK and the US, including defence departments, intelligence services and security agencies.
Digital images in high resolution are available from the Press Office on the number below
The IET web site can be found here: http://www.theiet.org/membership/awards/index.cfm
A full list of the competitors and entry details can be found here: http://conferences.theiet.org/innovation/finalists/index.

For further information, please contact
QinetiQ Press Office on Tel: +44 (0) 1252 39 3500
Email: PressOffice@QinetiQ.com

QinetiQ People Who Know How
QinetiQ's Zephyr solar aircraft double award by IET