Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders on Saturday joined the all-volunteer Airbus Perlan Mission II team in the role of co-pilot on the latest test flight of the Perlan 2 glider, the world’s first engineless aircraft designed to reach the edge of space. The flight was led by the project’s chief pilot Jim Payne at Minden-Tahoe Municipal Airport.  Enders also received a full briefing on the experimental aircraft’s pressurization and life support systems, which will be critical to mission safety and success when the team attempts to soar at record-breaking altitudes later this year in Argentina.

An experienced helicopter pilot and an aviation enthusiast, Enders also took the controls of the glider to experience the unique handling qualities of an aircraft optimized to fly in air almost as thin as the atmosphere on Mars.

“Experiencing the Perlan 2 glider in flight was truly remarkable,” said Enders. “Airbus Perlan Mission II is all about pushing the boundaries of innovation, refining our understanding of our environment and climate change, and inspiring a new generation of aerospace pioneers. We’re honored to see this dedicated team of volunteers carry our name on a journey that will eventually take them to the edge of space.”

Tom Enders

Airbus Group CEO

Airbus Perlan Mission II is all about pushing the boundaries of innovation, refining our understanding of our environment and climate change, and inspiring a new generation of aerospace pioneers

The Perlan 2 is a pressurized sailplane designed to ride air currents that, in certain mountainous regions near the north and south poles, can reach into the stratosphere. Last September, the Perlan 2 successfully achieved its first flight in Redmond, Oregon, making news around the world.

The Airbus Perlan Mission II team will be relocating its operations to the Patagonia area of Argentina this summer, where conditions will allow the team to begin higher-altitude flights that will ultimately take them as high as 90,000 feet (27.432 meters), yielding new discoveries in climate change and space exploration. Despite having no engine, the glider’s true flight speed at that altitude will be more than 400 mph (644 km/h) and the air density will be less than two percent of what it is at sea level. The crew will breathe pure oxygen provided by a rebreather system, similar to what astronauts use in space.

Interested observers can track the progress of the Airbus Perlan Mission II flight test program via Twitter @PerlanProject.

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About Airbus Group

Airbus Group is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2015, the Group -- comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Helicopters -- generated revenues of EUR 64.5 billion and employed a workforce of around 136,600.

About Airbus Perlan Mission II

Airbus Perlan Mission II is an initiative to fly an engineless glider to the edge of space, higher than any other winged aircraft has operated in level, controlled flight, to open up a world of new discoveries related to high-altitude flight, climate change and space exploration. This historic endeavor is the culmination of decades of research and engineering innovation, and the work of a tireless international team of aviators and scientists who volunteer their time and expertise for the non-profit Perlan Project. The project is supported by Airbus Group and a group of other sponsors that includes Weather Extreme Ltd., United Technologies and BRS Aerospace. For more information go to; for press kit and visuals go to

Perlan’s other sponsors:

United Technologies

Weather Extreme Ltd.

BRS Aerospace

Equipment, service and institutional donors:

Automated Metal Products

Bonehead Composites

Cobra Trailer

Community Foundation of Western Nevada

DeLorme inReach

Epic Aircraft


Iridium Communications Inc.

Miller Nash Graham & Dunn

Sandia Aerospace

Silicon Valley Community Foundation



Soaring Society of America

Trig Avionics

Whelen Engineering

Airbus CEO Tom Enders (right) celebrates a successful test flight of the Airbus Perlan Mission 2 pressurized glider with Perlan Project chief pilot Jim Payne. The unique engineless aircraft is completing testing in the U.S. before deploying later this year to the mountains of Argentina, where wind conditions will allow it to soar into the stratosphere.

Contacts for the media

In Northamerica

James Darcy

Airbus Group, Inc.

+1 571-214-1722 (mobile)

In Europe

Martin Agüera
+49 (0) 175 227 4369


Daniel Werdung :

+49 (0) 89 607 34275


Matthieu Duvelleroy

+33 (0) 1 46 974 440





  • Preparing for move to Argentina later this year to attempt world-record breaking flights
  • Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders co-pilots test flight of stratospheric glider