HAPSMobile expects regulatory approval later this year for high altitude platform tests

HAPSMobile, the joint venture between SoftBank and AeroVironment, plans to test its High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) its broadband service above Queensland in 2021, according to local newspaper reports. HAPS is designed to support broadband services by means of a communication platform that circles 20 kilometers above ground in the stratosphere.

The company said in a timeline that it anticipated “CASA approvals for Australian flight trials” to be completed in 2020, with certification for demonstration flights or a proof of concept in Queensland scheduled for 2021-2022. It added: “Currently we are progressing the planning and development stages for HAPSMobile proof of concept trials and demonstrations to commence in Australia before the commercialisation with central operations based in Queensland. This includes the approval process that we have already commenced with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia.”

HAPSMobile plans to fly solar-powered drones called HAWKs in the stratosphere to provide “super-wide network coverage from the sky.” The company claims one HAWK drone can provide coverage to an area of 31,415 square kilometres, and that it would deploy “multiple HAWKs at the same time” to provide coverage to “vast areas of Australia”.

Commercialised HAPSMoblie service in Australia is targeted to launch in 2023.

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