FAA approves solar drone flights over Hawaiian island

Japan's HAPSMobile has soared into a COA2 (Certificate of Authorization) from the FAA to fly HAWK30, a solar-powered unmanned aircraft assembled in April 2019

FAA approves solar drone flights over Hawaiian island
FAA approves solar drone flights over Hawaiian island

FAA approves solar drone flights over Hawaiian island

Japanese drone company HAPSMobile has soared into a COA2 (Certificate of Authorization) from the FAA to fly HAWK30, a solar-powered unmanned aircraft assembled in April 2019. The drone will provide a stratospheric telecommunications platform system across the stratosphere of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. The project is a collaboration with the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex, which is operated by public university research institutions.

HAPSMobile partners with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which manages the PPUTRC, and the University of Hawaii to conduct stratospheric test flights using HAWK30. The University of Alaska Fairbanks applied to the FAA for the COA2 on behalf of the partnership. With the FAA’s blessing, the team will prepare for test flights at Lanai later this year “by conducting safety verifications while coordinating with the island authorities and respecting business-related legislation and regulations.”

The trio also plans to hold information sessions for community residents in due course to discuss safety considerations and to promote understanding of the vision to utilize HAPS in the future. AeroVironment, Inc. serves as HAPSMobile’s aircraft development partner for HAWK30, a solar-powered unmanned aircraft designed for stratospheric telecommunications platform systems. Last year, the company formed a $65 million joint venture with HAPSMobile.