Zephyr Sets Official World Flight Records

QinetiQ, the British advanced technology shop, announced that the latest version of its Zephyr ultra-lightweight unmanned aircraft has set three official world aviation records, including one for longest duration aircraft flight: two weeks. This variant (22.5 meter wingspan) of the hand-launched, solar-powered air vehicle set the records during its maiden flight in July. It stayed aloft for 336 hours, 22 minutes, 8 seconds, demolishing the previous endurance record of 30 hours, 24 minutes set by a Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft in March 2001, according to QinetiQ officials. It also set records for altitude (21,562 meters) and for endurance (the two weeks) for an unmanned aircraft in its class (50 kilograms to 500 kilograms), they said. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (World Air Sports Federation) has ratified these accomplishments as world records, they said. QinetiQ envisions Zephyr for missions like maritime surveillance or relaying communications.