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AALTO targets 2026 for Zephyr full operating capability, to open Kenya as operating location

The Zephyr HAPS will operate in the stratosphere for extended periods of time, providing a persistent โ€˜eye in the sky' for customers. (Airbus)

Airbus Defence and Space (DS) subsidiary company AALTO is targeting 2026 to begin fully operating its Zephyr high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) and plans to open up Kenya as its first new operating location.

Speaking to Janes on 10 June, the CEO of AALTO, Samer Halawi, spelled out these twin upcoming key developments for the solar-powered HAPS that is designed to operate above the weather at an altitude of up to 70,000 ft.

โ€œWe are looking to finalise the type-approval process by the end of next year [2025], which means that for us to launch a full service will now be in early 2026,โ€ Halawi said, adding, โ€œWe are getting Kenya online to be our first [operating] location.โ€

In terms of the 2026 full operating date, Halawi noted that the Zephyr has already been undertaking missions for paying customers on an ad hoc basis ahead of the anticipated UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approvals that will be needed before these can be done on a more permanent footing.

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