Stratodynamics Aviation recently announced that its HiDRON autonomous glider had successfully completed a test flight in mid-December to an altitude of 25 km.
The test flight, the first at that altitude, followed a previous attempt in early November of 6 km.
HiDRON is new type of earth observation platform, partly funded by the Canadian Space Agency, that is being developed by Stratodynamics Aviation to initially collect high-altitude atmospheric data.
According to the press release the company issued the “atmospheric instruments were integrated with the autopilot telemetry and the sensors custom fitted to the aircraft.” As the system is integrated, the ground station was able to collect the data “in real-time and compiled with the flight records.”
The company further stated that “HiDRON stratospheric aircraft performed well in standard operational modes and in challenging BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) conditions. It operated in headwinds up to 180 km/h (112 mph), -60° C (-76° F) temperatures, experienced wing icing and reliably returned home and landed autonomously.”
HiDRON had to pass through commercial airspace twice, once during ascent and then descent. This was coordinated with regional Air Traffic Control Agency. The flight was done at night to minimize impact on air traffic.
HiDRON will next be tested at an altitude of 30 km.
Gary Pundsack, Stratodynamics Aviation Inc. Founder CEO said of the test flight “the HiDRON performed well in challenging winter winds and night conditions. At the 25km launch altitude, the HiDRON travelled 36 km from home. The return glide was controlled and, at an altitude of 18 km, the HiDRON was above the home position where it loitered in a slow descent down. Even with a build-up of ice on the wings, from passing through low-level clouds, the HiDRON landed autonomously. The test demonstrated the HiDRON’s aerodynamic capabilities and avionic system reliability.”