Skydweller takes crucial step in reaching goal of perpetual flight

Published: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 By: Journal Record Staff Source: The Journal Record

Skydweller Aero Inc., an Oklahoma City-based aerospace company developing solar-powered aircraft for defense and commercial industries, announced reaching a milestone on Monday.

After proprietary autonomous software design, installation, and ground testing, the company said it achieved successful flight demonstration of initial aircraft control, actuation, and sensor technology systems. The company led preliminary testing of the software, measuring and evaluating multiple “open-loop” system identification inputs to collect data on aircraft static and dynamic characteristics at various altitudes. It described the success as a crucial step in a preliminary flight test campaign, concluding with an optionally piloted takeoff and landing.

Eventually, Skydweller will transition to fully autonomous flight testing, it said.

“We are very pleased with our latest flight test and evaluation,” company co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer John Parkes said. “With renewed fervor for zero-emission unmanned systems solutions, we believe Skydweller Aero is well-positioned to not only prove our platform’s airworthiness and commercial viability but also (to) demonstrate that clean technology can enhance aircraft performance.”

By running critical test points at various altitudes, Skydweller also achieved a preliminary world-record claim: highest altitude – nearly 16,000 feet – reached and sustained by a U.S.-piloted solar-powered aircraft.

“This successful flight test demonstrates the incredible evolution of this aircraft since its acquisition,” Skydweller Chief Executive Officer Dr. Robert Miller said. “Leveraging rapid development and engineering processes, Skydweller has now begun collecting and analyzing real-world data to further refine and expand the software capabilities necessary for achieving autonomous flight. We are well on our way to meeting our ultimate objective – perpetual flight.”

A U.S.-Spanish company, Skydweller Aero Inc. announced last year that it would establish corporate headquarters and engineering operations in Oklahoma City and testing and integration in Ardmore. It announced plans to increase operations to include 120 aerospace engineering and field technician jobs in Oklahoma by 2024.

The company identifies as a cutting-edge concern, developing solar-powered aircraft capable of achieving perpetual flight with heavy, powerful payload capacity.

“With a flexible payload system, including communications relay, 4G/5G cellular, day/night full motion video, satellite communication, imaging radar, and more, Skydweller will enhance commercial and government telecommunication, geospatial, meteorological and emergency operation efforts around the world,” the release stated, “allowing customers to operate persistently in more challenging areas for longer durations, while reducing environmental impact.”

This story originally ran on the JournalRecord.com. 

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