The Airbus Zephyr 8, a solar-powered drone which holds numerous flight endurance records, finished its latest flight with what the US Army has referred to as an “unexpected termination”.
The aircraft took off on June 15, 2022, and spent 64 days and 18 hours above the United States, the Gulf of Mexico and South America before ending the flight on August 18.
The landing occurred at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) after encountering “events” that led to its “termination”, according to a press release issued by the US Army.
“Our team is working hard to gather and analyze important data following the unexpected termination of this flight,” Michael Monteleone, Director of the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team (APNT/Space CFT), which conducted the flight, said in the release.
The previous endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was 25 days, and was achieved by the Zephyr 8 in 2018.
While this flight was more than twice as long, it was still short of the longest flight ever, which was achieved in 1958-1959 by Robert Timm and John Cook. Timm and Cook managed to keep their Cessna 172 in the air for 64 days 22 hours, just four hours longer than the Zephyr 8’s last flight.