Solar-powered Flight and the Audi e-tron
In January 2023, Archibalds was contacted by a representative of Kea Aerospace with a unique proposition.
Under the direction of Mark Rocket and Dr Philipp Sueltrop, the aim of this Christchurch-based company is to ‘develop a solar-powered, unmanned aircraft that will fly continuously in the stratosphere for months at a time to collect frequent high-resolution aerial images’. Kea Aerospace is the only high-altitude flight company based in the Southern Hemisphere, and their aircraft – the Kea Atmos – hopes to be New Zealand’s first aircraft capable of stratospheric flight.
When they reached out to us, we jumped at the opportunity to assist them in launching the Kea Atmos Mk 1. Audi’s electric vehicle, the Audi e-tron, with its electronic drive, smooth suspension, and advanced technology was the obvious choice.
After an earlier test flight, on a cold March morning, Marketing Manager Mark Lincoln – over-dressed in business attire amongst the gumboot-clad Kea Aerospace engineers – visited Springfield Aerodrome, a grassy airstrip popular with glider enthusiasts.
Surrounded by frosted mountains and with the sunrise creating a perfect backdrop, it was an incredible experience to see the Audi e-tron silently roll along the runway and launch the Kea Atmos Mk 1 into a cloudless sky.
We were humbled by the experience and thank Kea Aerospace for inviting us to play a small but important role in this historic flight, and we look forward to seeing what comes next for Kea Aerospace.