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Airbus to locate Zephyr aircraft in WA

Premier Mark McGowan has welcomed the announcement by Airbus to establish the innovative Zephyr solar-powered unmanned aircraft at Wyndham airfield in Western Australia. The WA Government has been working with Airbus since February this year to support the implementation of Airbus Defence and Space’s High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) program to establish their development site at Wyndham Airport.

The Zephyr HAPS project is a solar-powered aerial platform that flies at more than 65,000 feet to provide a range of earth observation services and communications connectivity for people in remote areas, including for civil, military or humanitarian purposes. Airbus will begin flights in the second half of this year.

The choice of Wyndham due to the largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather, together with the strong support provided by the Western Australian Government, provides both a job creation opportunity in the east Kimberley and a technology advancement opportunity for Western Australia, and Australia.

The State Government has been co-ordinating support for the Zephyr project, including with the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley and the Kimberley Development Commission, to ensure that all arrangements are in place to support the operational start of the project at Wyndham. In March, the Premier and Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia visited Airbus at Farnborough, while in the United Kingdom, to be briefed on the Airbus proposal and provide State Government support.

Premier Mark McGowan commented:“This is a major coup for Western Australia; I’m thrilled that Airbus has chosen Wyndham Airport as the operational and launch site for the Zephyr project. Our local economy will benefit from this decision, with up to 20 Airbus staff also earmarked to be based in the local area during operational phases. I am optimistic that early success of the project will lead to expanded job opportunities in the east Kimberley and elsewhere in Western Australia.

“From my meeting with the company in March, I was very impressed with the proposal and Airbus’ international reputation. The technically advanced nature of the project will also help build Western Australia’s profile in the aerospace, defence and innovation spaces. The Government looks forward to the operational success of Zephyr and to exploration by both local and other Australian government agencies and companies of opportunities to utilise such HAPS technology to improve economic, social and environmental outcomes in our region.”