Thales announced today (January 13, 2022) that it aims to fly their latest mobile Satellite communications system, FlytLink, in a zero-emission glider to more than twice the altitude of a commercial airline flight. FlytLink offers coverage and connectivity for critical operations. Its resilience, high dependability and low size, weight and power make it adaptable to any aircraft.

World record setting

Thales, the French multinational in aerospace and defence, does so in partnership with Airbus Perlan Mission II, climate and aerospace research project, that Thales itself decribes as “internationally celebrated and world record setting”. Through this collaboration, the world will get a live, front row view of the stratosphere and hear from glider pilots as they soar to the edge of space via FlytLink. 

Airbus Perlan Mission II is an initiative of The Perlan Project, a non-profit, international team of scientists, engineers, and aviators. The group has already set aviation world altitude records in the experimental Perlan 2 glider, which was designed, built and deployed to fly to 90,000 feet without an engine. 

First time live feed

Originally launched in 2015, the Perlan 2 achieved its highest record-setting flight of above 76,000 feet in 2018. The organization’s mission is to conduct climate, atmospheric and aeronautical research at extreme high altitudes. Applications of their research include informing more accurate climate-change models, innovating fuel-efficient or zero-emission aviation, and even demonstrating the feasibility of using energy-efficient winged aircraft on Mars. 

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    Soaring too high to use ground-based communications, the Perlan 2 glider will be fitted with the FlytLink Thales Iridium Certus based satellite communications (satcom) system. This means that for the first time it will be possible to make a live feed available to students, researchers and aviation enthusiasts around the world while the aircraft is in flight, enabling access to real-time data downloads. FlytLink is the latest generation of Iridium-based satellite communications systems for cockpit and crew operations. 

    The Nevada-based Airbus Perlan Mission II team is planning for a possible return to flight this year in the U.S. and El Calafate, Argentina.

    (Photo: the Perlan 2 glider, © Thales)

    Also interesting: Thales supplies the technology for the world’s only network of satellites in low earth orbit

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