HiDron, a joint project between UAVOS and Stratodynamics, has completed its first test flight.
The testing program was used to prove stable communication commands of the primary radio link and the backup Iridium satellite system and stabilisation and controllability of the aircraft after the balloon was released.
It also tested the balloon release systems and monitored the influence of icing conditions on the UAV controls.
The first flight lasted 1.5 hours and reached an altitude of 6000 m while the HiDron’s vertical speed averaged 2 m/s down during the return flight, much slower than typical payload parachutes at 4 m/s or higher.
Lead developed at UAVOS, Aliaksei Stratsilatan, said: “In general, the first test flight of the HiDRON was successful. All systems worked in a regular operation mode. By the decision of the development team, the unmanned aircraft is admitted to the next flight at an altitude of 25-30km with integrated equipment for weather measurement: an ozonesonde with pressure, temperature and humidity sensors. The collected data will also be integrated with the autopilot sensors; for example, GPS altitude and location, and wind speed.”
The HiDRON has a wing span of 3.4 m and has a maximum take-off weight of 4.5 kg with an integrated payload of 1 kg.
However, there are plans to increase the payload weight and integration with target vertical speeds of 3 – 4 m/s on the ascent and 3 m/s or lower on the descent, depending on the altitude.
Gary Pundsack, CEO at Stratodynamics Aviation, said: “The HiDRON is a unique balloon-launched unmanned glider for collecting in-situ high-altitude atmospheric data, and capable of autonomous and soaring flight modes. We are pleased with the flight test results and the HiDRON’s agility to return home from 12 km away and a 6 km altitude.
He added: “The HiDRON provides a new dynamic method for measuring and evaluating atmospheric phenomena at various altitudes in a variety of geographical locations. Stratodynamics offers an alternative to current lift-and-drift single-use meteorological balloon campaigns which, traditionally, pose a high probability of losing equipment, as well as limitations in quality and quantity of the observed data.”