AALTO HAPS selects Kenya as first ground station to support Zephyr unmanned aircraft

AALTO CEO Samer Halawi has spoken to Bloomberg about the company’s plan to create an AALTOPORT to deploy, fly and land missions of zephyr in Kenya. AALTO says Zephyr will provide “game-changing capabilities for Earth Observation and Connectivity applications – from an altitude or an orbit or frontier that has never been explored before”.

Speaking about why AALTO HAPS selected Kenya for its first AALTOPORT, Country Manager Tom Guilfoy said: “The weather, the wide open spaces, the uncongested airspace, stable government, economic environment, well-educated young, tech savvy population. There’s so many good reasons to be here.”

Samer Halawi told Bloomberg that Kenya will be the first of four to five bases around the world, starting from 2024. According to UAS Vision, the plan is subject to regulatory approval from the Kenyan government. “Each hub will encompass various units, including launch and landing ports, maintenance facilities, assembly lines with a production capacity of up to 50 aircraft per year, an operations center, and customer support facilities,” says the newsletter.

The Airbus High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) Zephyr is capable of flying continuously for months at a time, at around 70,000ft, above weather and conventional air traffic. Zephyr can provide high-quality imagery using the Airbus OPAZ earth observation payload, or become a tower in the sky, capable of providing direct-to-device connectivity with a reach of up to 250 terrestrial towers in difficult mountainous terrain. Zephyr relies on solar energy, with secondary batteries charged in daylight to power overnight flight.
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