Airbus has said that a test flight of its solar-powered Zephyr unmanned aircraft was “interrupted” due to adverse weather conditions last month.
The flight on March 15th was “interrupted earlier than planned due to adverse weather conditions”, an Airbus spokesperson said. “We are working hard on preparing for the next trial”.
Whilst Airbus refused to admit the aircraft had crashed, Airservices Australia, the country’s air navigation service provider, confirmed it had crashed, adding no one was hurt in the incident.
The crash occurred near the remote town of Wyndham, 1,200 miles north east of Perth. Airbus began using the area last December because of its “largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather”.
The drone, originally developed by QinetiQ, is designed to operate at an altitude of around 70,000 feet (21 kilometres) for months at a time to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR). The program was sold to Airbus Defence and Space in March 2013.
In November 2015 the then Prime Minister David Cameron said the aircraft “will fly at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and allow us to monitor our adversaries for weeks on end, providing critical intelligence for our armed forces”.