Airbus launches new Perlan 2 glider flight to explore skies above Sierra Nevada, US


Airbus has launched the second flight season of its Perlan 2 experimental pressurised glider, with an aim to explore the skies above Sierra Nevada, US.

The flight is a part of Airbus Perlan Mission II, an initiative that flies a glider without an engine to the edge of space to collect insights on high-altitude flight, weather, and climate change.

Launched at Minden-Tahoe Airport in the US, the latest flight has already reached 30,615ft, its highest altitude so far.

In the upcoming weeks, Perlan 2 will spend soaring in the rising wind currents, also known as mountain waves, in the skies above Sierra Nevada.

The aircraft is expected to return to Patagonia, Argentina, in June for the ongoing exploration season.

The first season of the mission was conducted last year in Patagonia.

Apart from Airbus, other companies such as Weather Extreme, United Technologies and BRS Aerospace are involved in the non-profit Perlan Project.

"We’ve made improvements to the aircraft that will help us have even greater success this year."

Perlan Project CEO Ed Warnock said: “This past year, our team gained invaluable insight and experience from flying the glider in and around the Andes Mountains.

“Using that information, we’ve made improvements to the aircraft that will help us have even greater success this year, first in Nevada and later in Argentina, if the wave and weather conditions are optimal.”

For the latest flight, the Perlan Project team has updated the Perlan 2 glider. The updates include a pressurised cockpit, enhanced avionics and life support systems.


Image: Perlan 2 pressurized glider designed to reach the edge of space without an engine soars in the Patagonia region of Argentina in 2016. Photo: courtesy of Airbus.