Permits for testing are underway on the island of Lanai, one of the Hawaiian islands, for a solar powered drone with a wingspan of 260 feet.
The first step of RCUH’s HAPS (high altitude pseudo satellite) Project is launching a solar-powered, unmanned drone with a wing span of 260 feet — called the Hawk30 — from agricultural land on Lanai and flying it over the island at 65,000 feet to 80,000 feet for 30 days. They’ve already built a hangar for the drone, and RCUH’s Ted Ralston, on loan from UH’s Applied Research Lab, told those attending a July 17 workshop on Lanai they want the Hawk30 up by October.
Low-altitude testing is ongoing at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, after which the drone ships to Lanai for its high-altitude flight. Forty imported specialists would monitor operations from trailers at an air field already being prepared on former pineapple fields next to the hangar in Lanai’s Palawai Basin. If the drone gets up and stays up, Phase 2 involves more Lanai flights, using up to five drones, to obtain FAA certification. If the drone gets up and stays up, Phase 2 involves more Lanai flights, using up to five drones, to obtain FAA certification. The application RCUH filed on June 19 with Maui County’s Planning Department asked for a “use determination” instead, which means it had to make a one-time experimental flight into something about agriculture.