Kea Aerospace completes New Zealand’s longest endurance UAV flight

On Sunday, December 19, Kea Aerospace recorded the longest known flight for an unmanned aircraft in New Zealand, during an electrically powered flight over Kaitōrete, near Christchurch.

The battery and solar powered vehicle flew continuously for 14 hours and 3 minutes, breaking the previous record of 12 hours and 3 minutes in 1996.

“This achievement is an important milestone for the team as we continue to expand our capabilities,” said Mark Rocket, CEO of Kea Aerospace.

The UAV flight took place in an area above the land run by the new Tāwhaki Joint Venture – a partnership between Te Taumutu Rūnanga, Wairewa Rūnanga (together as Kaitōrete Limited) and the Crown, which aims to heal and rejuvenate Kaitōrete’s unique whenua. and advancing Aotearoa’s nascent aerospace industry. Named after the demigod Tāwhaki, the partnership owns and maintains 1,000 hectares of land in Kaitōrete – an important cultural and environmental landscape renowned for its mahinga kai, taonga species, and history.

The world is witnessing a wave of innovation for electric and solar airplanes. In November, Christchurch-based ElectricAir made the world’s longest electric plane flight over water, over the Cook Strait.

Kea Aerospace builds and flies a range of electric airplanes and high altitude balloons as part of the program to build a large stratospheric aircraft over 30 meters wingspan.

The “Kea Atmos” is a solar powered unmanned aircraft that can fly through the stratosphere continuously for months. It will carry a game-changing suite of imaging equipment for many industries, dramatically improving intelligence for applications such as environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, disaster management and maritime awareness.

Mr Rocket said the company is building a new aircraft which it hopes will surpass the international record of 82 hours for a drone weighing less than 25kg, which it plans to launch in February.

© Scoop Media

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