Airbus plans to spin off Zephyr drone program: Report

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Airbus is looking to spin off its high-altitude surveillance and communications drone program Zephyr, with the aim of starting commercial operations by the end of next year, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

The French aircraft maker has tapped Morgan Stanley to find external partnerships to help accelerate the commercialization
of the business, which will operate under the brand name ‘Aalto,’ the FT reported.

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The solar-powered Zephyr drone is designed to linger at an altitude of about 70,000 feet (21 kilometers) for months at a time for surveillance or to provide a temporary boost to communications.

Sameer Halawi who has been leading the program since last summer told FT that the Zephyr was “at a final design stage.”

“The idea of the carve-out is to bring like-minded partners to the equation and to be able to scale this business,” said Halawi, adding Airbus does not offer telecom services.

Airbus did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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