Project Loon – Aviation Powered InternetEmilius Sasiyo
26th June 2018. Project Loon Briefing workshop kicked off in Nairobi Kenya at Ole Sereni Hotel. Google Inc’s ‘’Project Loon’’ aims to employ unmanned free balloons at high altitude to provide trans-global internet access.
Manager, Flight Operations Captain Immaculate Apolot represented EAC CASSOA in this important workshop. During the workshop the Secretary general of East African Community Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko signed a letter of co-operation with Google Inc – Project Loon on sharing technical information regarding balloon operations.
Project Loon uses super pressured balloons equipped with limited altitude control systems. Air is pumped into inner ballonet, allowing the balloon to modify its weight for ascent or descent. Modeling how a balloon will fly at different altitude is a significant technical achievement for the project.
Balloon envelope specifications includes polyethylene or nylon materials of approximately 55 kg, however, weight varies based on configuration.
According to Google Inc, Loon balloons carry communications and safety equipment attached to the balloon envelope. Flight system contains a flight computer, lithium batteries, solar panels, environmental sensors, a transponder, radar-reflective materials, a gps receiver, an Iridium satellite communications link, and a parachute. Some balloons also carry communication equipment to conduct operations with local telecommunications companies, coordinated with the relevant government ministries or agencies.
These balloons generally float at altitude higher than FL600. With ATC permission, balloons may float at lower altitudes for additional maneuverability.
Project Loon which was endorsed by ICAO’s General Assembly is aiming at partnering with local telecommunications companies to extend network coverage in remote areas and also deliver connectivity in flooded or hurricane hit areas.
“Delivering Internet is only possible with overflight agreement in the EAC region, in Africa and with coordination with military” – Project Loon