Air­bus Per­lan Mis­sion-II in Search for World Avi­a­tion Record

India Strategic - - CONTENTS -

EL CALAFATE, AR­GENTINA. Air­bus Per­lan Mis­sion II, an ini­tia­tive to fly a glider with­out an en­gine to the edge of space to col­lect ground-break­ing in­sights on cli­mate change, weather and high­alti­tude flight, this week reached a new high al­ti­tude in its se­cond sea­son of flight test­ing in El Calafate,

El Calafate, in the Patag­o­nian re­gion of Ar­gentina, is in one of a few places on earth where a com­bi­na­tion of moun­tain winds and the po­lar vor­tex cre­ate the world’s high­est “strato­spheric moun­tain waves” – ris­ing air cur­rents that Per­lan pi­lots be­lieve can even­tu­ally carry their ex­per­i­men­tal air­craft to the edge of space.

Over the next two months, the al­lvol­un­teer ex­plo­ration team spon­sored by Air­bus will seek for the rare waves in an at­tempt to break the world glid­ing al­ti­tude record of 50,727 feet, set by Ei­nar Enevold­sen and Steve Fos­sett in Per­lan 1 in 2006. Along the way, the air­craft will con­tinue to col­lect sci­en­tific data on the at­mos­phere made pos­si­ble by the Per­lan 2 air­craft’s unique at­tributes.

“Just last month the world wit­nessed another re­minder of the im­por­tance of un­der­stand­ing cli­mate change, with the frac­ture from the Antarc­tic ice shelf of an ice­berg the size of the state of Delaware,” said Per­lan Project CEO Ed Warnock. “Air­bus Per­lan Mis­sion II will al­low us to study a range of at­mo­spheric phe­nom­e­non that ul­ti­mately will give us more ac­cu­rate mod­els of our up­per at­mos­phere and the cli­matic changes that mat­ter to every world ci­ti­zen.”

The en­gine­less de­sign of the Per­lan 2 sail plane en­ables it to col­lect un­con­tam­i­nated air sam­ples from a range of al­ti­tudes. Un­like a weather balloon, it can be steered, can stay in one area, and can take off and land in the same lo­ca­tion.

Be­sides study­ing fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing cli­mate change, Air­bus Per­lan Mis­sion II will also pro­vide in­sights into high al­ti­tude tur­bu­lence and ra­di­a­tion ef­fects on pi­lots and air­craft.

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