Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey S. Viano, U.S. Navy, Getty Images
An unmanned Predator drone flies near the California coast

Around the Sky for 80 Hours: Experimental Drone Sets Flight Record

July 16, 2015
The Orion prototype, similar to the Predator and Reaper drones used by the U.S. military, flew for 80 hours and change in December, shattering the old mark by more than two full days.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An experimental drone has set a record for the longest continuous flight of a craft of its size, staying in the air for more than three days, according to the International Aeronautical Federation.

The Orion prototype long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, similar to the well-known Predator and Reaper style drones used by the U.S. military, flew for 80 hours, 2 minutes, 52 seconds, according to the data validated by the federation.

The feat actually took place in December over California, when four pilots took turns flying the craft designed to carry a payload of cameras, weapons or other equipment of more than one ton.

It shattered the previous UAV flight record of 30 hours, belonging to the Global Hawk by Northrop Grumman.

The drone was built as part of an experimental U.S. Air Force program to meet the round-the-clock needs of American intelligence and surveillance.

Its manufacturer, Aurora Flight Sciences, hopes to build a series of the planes for the Air Force.

The overall record for flight duration by a UAV belongs to a small solar powered craft built by Airbus that carried out a 14-day flight in 2010.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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