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Ahead of Zephyr’s commercial service launch by the end of 2024, Airbus’ high-altitude platform station (HAPS) connectivity business has unveiled its new brand, AALTO HAPS (AALTO), with the tagline “The Future is Stratospheric.”

AALTO HAPS CEO Samer Halawi commented: “A new stratospheric age has begun. AALTO’s Zephyr aircraft is the only HAPS platform that delivers long-lasting, environmentally-friendly, low-latency 5G Direct-to-Device (D2D) connectivity solutions, allowing MNOs to extend their coverage in a profitable way to rural and remote areas.”

Airbus is reportedly seeking external investments for its HAPS program to scale the business and accelerate its commercialization. The French company has tapped Morgan Stanley to find external partnerships for the new business unit, which is now at its final design stage.

The solar-powered Zephyr drone is designed to linger at an altitude of about 70,000 feet (21 kilometers), which is above weather and commercial planes but below conventional satellites. It can run for months at a time for surveillance or provide a temporary boost to communications.

“Our earth observation solutions will support the management of forest fires, the protection of borders, and will enable precision agriculture, amongst other applications,” Halawi added.

Zephyr has established itself as the world’s leading HAPS platform, and at present, it remains the only fixed-wing HAPS to have proven day and night longevity in the stratosphere, after a test flight in 2022 managed an impressive 64 days in the sky.

It has been known that the company plans to establish AALTO ports at five to six locations around the world, including in the US and the Middle East.

During Q4 2022, Salam and Airbus HAPS Connectivity Business signed a strategic partnership to progress the development of private networks, IoT applications, disaster management solutions and other connectivity, as well as high-altitude Earth observation capabilities to serve Saudi Arabia.

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