Great things can be achieved when teams collaborate and work
towards specific goals. We would like to congratulate the
following organisations on their amazing achievements and
are proud and privileged to have played a part in their journey.
BAE Systems’ Phasa-35 makes breakthrough stratospheric flight
A UK team has performed the first stratospheric flight of a new solar-powered drone
using a new weather and turbulence modelling systems – potentially
solving one of the key obstacles to realising the practical use
of HAPS. TIM ROBINSON FRAeS reports.
On 24 June a BAE Systems Phasa-35 solar-powered high-altitude pseudo-satellite
(HAPS) made a 24hr test flight out of Spaceport America, New Mexico, over the
US Army White Sands Missile Range. With the callsign of AVRO352 (a callback to a
somewhat famous legacy BAE company) it reached 66,000ft, in its first ever
stratospheric flight before landing the following day.
I have known Paul Heckles for over a decade. The university has used his services for many years
both for undergraduate teaching as well as unmanned systems research and development.
He has an extremely professional approach to his work which adds considerable value to the process
of developing unmanned platforms and systems. It goes without saying that he is well known for his
world class piloting skills which have, on many occasions, averted expensive platform loss. More
importantly we have learnt the value of involving Paul early in design/project discussions in order to
tap into his wealth of experience in many areas of aviation.
He has a fantastic "can-do" attitude in order to maximise the flight-testing time on the airfield. He is
very generous with his equipment and resources. This is particularly the case with undergraduate
projects where students might have equipment failure or other difficulties; Paul will typically step in
with the loan of a receiver, servo, battery, fuel or starter motor etc.
Paul has an obvious passion for all forms of aviation and, combined with his delightful
interpersonal skills, is able to inspire the younger generation.
I wholeheartedly support the vision around the UAV Test Pilots business. It is vital, in the design of
new systems to think about the test schedule early in the project. Paul and his team can help to
focus on testing (as part of good systems engineering best practice) at the concept design phase in
order to minimise overall project risk.