“Mishap” to AeroVironment Global Observer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

It wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke, even though AeroVironment’s press release is dated April 1.  Their Global Observer crashed in the Mojave Desert during extended duration flight testing.  AeroVironment stressed that there were “No injuries or damage to other property reported during envelope expansion flight testing,” and that an “Investigation Board will be convened to probe the cause and provide details of the mishap.”

The mishap occurred at 2:30 a. m., approximately 18 hours into the craft’s ninth test flight. 

AeroVironment’s press release continues, “’Flight testing an innovative new solution like Global Observer involves pushing the frontiers of technology and convention,’ said Tim Conver, AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer. ‘Risk is a component of every flight test program, and the learning that results from a mishap enables us to improve system reliability and performance. One benefit of testing an unmanned aircraft system is that pilots and crew are not in harm’s way when a mishap occurs.’”

The flight test team, composed of U. S. Government and AeroVironment personnel, “was in the process of expanding the flight envelope of the first air vehicle, which had been operating for nearly twice the endurance and at a higher altitude than previous flights when the mishap occurred.”


A second GO is nearly complete at AeroVironment’s development facility, so speculation that the flight test program may be delayed by a year may be premature, although the $140 million in funding from six U. S. government agencies for the program is nearly gone.

As noted in earlier blog entries, the hydrogen-fueled Global Observer is designed to operate at 65,000 feet for up to a week at a time, providing surveillance for military or civilian applications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *