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The civil UAV market with a worldwide market volume of USD 6.56 billion in 2018 is expected to grow to USD 43 billion by 2024*. Market growth in the coming years will be driven by the large number of new commercial applications, in particular by the use of unmanned stratospheric flight systems for telecommunications and Earth observation services. For perennial operation at high altitudes, these aircraft require an extremely large wingspan with the lowest possible structural weight. When flying in the troposphere, conventional aircraft configurations face a particular risk that greater turbulences could lead to cracks and fractures in the aircraft structure. The Berlin-based company AlphaLink Engineering GmbH is currently developing a compound aircraft that can solve this structural-mechanical lightweight construction dilemma by connecting multiple aircraft modules at their wingtips through mechanical
joints. After intensive research at Technische Universität Berlin, the patented technology is now being tested by AlphaLink in the form of test vehicles and flight trials. The compound aircraft is the first electrically powered stratospheric aircraft that achieves both long operating times and high payloads.
* SESAR, European ATM Master Plan, Roadmap for the safe integration of drones into all classes of airspace, 2018