Swift Engineering's HALE UAS completes maiden flight

Swift Engineering has announced that its high-altitude long endurance (HALE) UAS has completed its maiden flight. The flight was completed in partnership with NASA’s Ames Research Center.

To validate the vehicle’s configuration for high-altitude continuous surveillance missions, Swift’s flight team performed a full-system check. The flight trials were conducted at New Mexico’s Spaceport America.

“The applications of this technology will usher in a new era of data acceleration. Swift is able to deliver what no other industry or defense contractor can provide in the US market,” says Rick Heise, president and CEO of Swift Engineering.

“I am extremely proud of our team and our great partners at NASA for this remarkable feat of innovation. We are excited about our global commercialization plans.”

Described as an affordable alternative to satellites, the HALE UAS offers 24-hour persistent and stable upper atmosphere operations for commercial and military surveillance, monitoring, communications, and security applications. Designed to operate unmanned at 70,000 feet, the 72-foot solar-powered air vehicle weighs less than 180 pounds and can safely carry up to 15-pound payloads for missions.

“The partnership with NASA’s earth science team is significant. Using the agency’s mission cases, we developed a cost-efficient power and propulsion system that can withstand harsh temperatures, radiation, and stratospheric conditions, while providing and storing enough energy to enable persistent long-duration flights. The calculations from the flight test validates all of our safety and design requirements,” explains Andrew Streett, vice president of Technology at Swift Engineering.

The Swift HALE UAS was awarded two technology patents and received airworthiness certifications from NASA and the FAA’s Certificate of Authorization (COA), which enables the UAS to fly in commercial airspace.

Swift notes that its HALE UAS is the only US-made platform in its class.