Whilst it is essential that solar powered HALE UAV minimise mass to enable persistent flight using just the power of the sun, the aircraft still has to be strong enough and stiff enough to ensure they can be launched, transited through the Troposphere and recovered.
With the delay to our high altitude flight testing imposed by the Covid restrictions, we have been bringing forward those parts of the programme that will ensure the PHASA-35 is production ready and ready for these conditions. The prototype systems had already passed full structural acceptance testing to make sure they were fit for flight and we have now moved this on to qualify the key structural elements at the fully loaded configuration, ensuring that the structural design is good for the full payload and battery load required for high value, year-round operations.
The (accelerated) video shows the full scale centre structural element being subjected to the maximum design load for the full configuration plus 50% margin. The bending moment applied is equivalent to having the engines from four racing cars trying to bend this section. Despite the section being 8m long and weighing less than 10kg, the PHASA-35 design has shown itself to be more than capable to meet these worst case conditions. A great start to 2021.