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Airbus relaunches flying base station business as Aalto HAPS

Airbus AALTO HAPS.jpg

Aerospace company Airbus has relaunched its high-altitude platform station (HAPS) business under a new name.

The unit, which is still 100% owned by Airbus, will operate solar-electric platform called Zephyr, which has already been tried out by NTT DoCoMo of Japan.

Samer Halawi, named as CEO of Aalto HAPS, said the “Zephyr aircraft is the only HAPS platform that delivers long-lasting, environmentally-friendly low-latency 5G direct-to-device (D2D) connectivity solutions”.

On its last flight campaign in 2022 (pictured), Zephyr flew for over 64 days, non-stop, in the stratosphere, at around 70,000 feet (21,000m), said Aalto HAPS.

The company said: “Zephyr has established itself as the world’s leading HAPS platform, and to this day remains the only fixed-wing HAPS to have proven day and night longevity in the stratosphere.”

Halawi, a citizen of the US and Lebanon, became CEO of the unit under its old name in July 2022. He is building a new team to take the platform into commercial service by the end of 2024.

He was chief commercial officer at OneWeb for a few months in 2017 after six years as CEO of Thuraya, a Middle East satellite company, which took over UAE competitor Yahasat. He then moved to Intelsat for four years until 2022.