Successful Flight of Electrical Aerial Vehicle (EAV) in the 18.5km Stratosphere
- More advanced high altitude EAV technology than Google, Facebook, Russia, and China -
- Creation of new markets in real-time ground observation, communication relay, and meteorological observation -
□ Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) disclosed on August 25 that its high altitude electrical aerial vehicle (EAV-3), which flies using only solar energy in a high altitude where the atmosphere is thin, recently succeeded in flying in the stratospheric altitude of 18.5km for 90 minutes after it reached the altitude of 14.12km last year.
○ This flight record represents flight in a stratospheric altitude, where there is no flight control, of more than 4km higher than last year. KARI has developed the key technologies such as high altitude propeller design technology to solve the low temperature problem at a high altitude, ultra-light structural design technology, and precision navigation and control technology and enhanced the technology needed for high altitude flight such as vapor internal temperature control, high altitude energy operation and high altitude flight control.
○ Although a conventional aircraft cannot fly in the stratosphere because of very low air density and temperature, the high altitude EAV can stay in it for long periods with just solar energy as the power source because the wind is weak and there are no clouds. The altitude of 19km or higher is very useful because a vehicle can fly according to the operator’s plan without the command from a controller on the ground and without a preset navigation plan.
□ This flight makes EAV-3 to be the world’s third vehicle to enter the stratospheric altitude of 18km or higher. The record is significant in that Korea now has the technical edge in high altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV technology, of which has heated competition worldwide.
□ Many countries are investing heavily in the development of EAV-3 technologies because they facilitate the operations such as precision ground observation, communication relay, and meteorological observation to supplement the satellite in a cost effective and eco-friendly way.
○ If the efficiency of solar cell and batteries grow even more, Korea will be able to carry out the tasks such as the monitoring of illegal fishing foreign vessels, monitoring of marine pollution, and forest fires, and observation of harvest crops more easily using the EAV that can operate in the stratosphere for months.
□ KARI plans to conduct the tests for ground observation, atmospheric data acquisition, real-time image transmission, communication relay, and meteorological observation using EAV-3 as part of the commercialization of high altitude EAV technology.
□ KARI began development of key EAV technologies with support from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning in 2010 and has been improving HALE technology with records of continuous flight of 22 hours and reaching an altitude of 5km (EAV-2) in 2013, continuous flight of 25 hours, and reaching an altitude of 10km (EAV-2H) in 2014 and reaching an altitude of 14.12km (EAV-3) last year.