Here's a selection of projects we are currently working on as part of our Kea Atmos high altitude aircraft programme.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena California are key partners in our project “Next-Generation Airborne Remote Sensing: High Altitude Persistent Coastal Ocean Monitoring (HAPCOM)”. The project is funded by the New Zealand government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s rivers and coastlines are a critical part of our unique environment and economy, yet suffer from human-driven pressures. Developing more sophisticated ways to monitor impact and change will provide a valuable tool for decision-makers. This project will test assumptions in remote sensing techniques and engineering requirements with aspirations to fly suitable NASA camera systems for remote sensing of the coastal regions of New Zealand.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

We are working with the Institute of Optical Sensor Systems and the Microwaves and Radar Institute at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to integrate optical cameras and radar systems onboard the Kea Atmos in the “An Eye In The Southern Sky” project. The project is funded by the New Zealand government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Developments in remote sensing tools onboard persistent high-altitude aircraft will provide a significant capability jump from current technology used by satellites and short-duration low-altitude aircraft. Deployment of these instruments to the stratosphere will begin a new era in Earth observation.

Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre

We are excited to collaborate in Tāwhaki’s dual kaupapa of supporting Aotearoa New Zealand’s aerospace industry and rejuvenating the unique whenua of Kaitorete. Good data is the foundation of sound decision-making, especially when it comes to our environment. Using our remote sensing systems onboard the Kea Atmos, we aim to develop a transformative data pipeline to shed light on some of the key environmental issues impacting the Kaitorete area. As part of our operations, we are putting extensive effort into weather forecasting and understanding atmospheric processes over Kaitorete; we hope this can support the wider aerospace industry operating from Tāwhaki.

University of Canterbury

Kea Aerospace works closely with the University of Canterbury (UC) to support our operations and design aerospace programmes in line with New Zealand’s science priorities. UC’s excellent engineering faculty has also been key to Kea’s success providing talented students, postgrads and recent graduates to support our R&D efforts. 

We are in the early stages of collaborations to develop remote sensing instrumentation and atmospheric sampling tools with multiple groups at UC in research areas including extreme weather events, flood and landslide monitoring and future aspirations for missions over the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic continent.

New Zealand Airspace Integration Trials

Kea Aerospace is undertaking four work packages as part of the New Zealand Airspace Integration Trials programme to assess operational airspace risk over maritime territory and Beyond Line Of Sight operations. The project is funded by the New Zealand government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

New Zealand’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone is 15 times the size of its landmass. Its Search and Rescue Region extends from the tropics to the South Pole. Long endurance Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles can play a significant role in managing these regions.