Airbus Perlan Mission II sets a new altitude record


El Calafate - Perlan Project, the world’s first initiative to fly a glider to the edge of space, set a new gliding altitude record (62,000 feet) on August 26 in El Calafate, Argentina.

This is the second glider altitude world record for Perlan 2 crew Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock. The first record had come with 52,221 feet in the same remote region of Patagonia.

Equipped with a pressurized cabin, Perlan 2 passed the Armstrong Line, the border in the atmosphere above which human’s blood will boil if not protected.

This is a tremendous moment for all the volunteers and sponsors of Airbus Perlan Mission II who have been so dedicated to making our non-profit aerospace initiative a reality,
said Ed Warnock, CEO of The Perlan Project.

Our victory today, and whatever other milestones we achieve this year, are a testament to a pioneering spirit of exploration that runs through everyone on the project and through the organizations that support us.
Innovation is a buzzword in aerospace today, but Perlan truly embodies the kind of bold thinking and creativity that are core Airbus values,
said Tom Enders, Airbus CEO.

Perlan Project is achieving the seemingly impossible, and our support for this endeavor sends a message to our employees, suppliers, and competitors that we will not settle for being anything less than extraordinary.

Another first-of-its-kind accomplishment for the Perlan Project this year is the adoption of a particular high-altitude tow plane rather than a traditional glider tow plane.

During this flight, Perlan 2 was towed to the stratosphere by a Grob Egrett G520 turboprop, a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that was modified earlier this summer for this specific mission. The tow plane released the glider at around 42,000 feet, the approximate service ceiling of an Airbus A380.

To climb to the target altitude, Perlan 2 uses stratospheric mountain streams; a weather phenomenon formed by the polar vortex that strengthens rising air currents behind mountain ranges.

It happens only for a short period every year in just a few areas on earth. Andes Mountains around El Calafate is one of these exceptional locations where the rising air currents could hit to 100,000 feet or more.

The purpose of the flight missions is to implement experiments developed by The Perlan Project’s science and research committee related to high-altitude flight, weather, and climate change.

Unlike powered research aircraft, Perlan 2 does not influence the temperature or chemical components of the air around it, making the glider an ideal platform to study the world atmosphere.

The project is supported by Airbus and a group of sponsors that includes Weather Extreme Ltd., United Technologies, and BRS Aerospace.