The first of a series of AIRSTART ‘pod’ flights took place at Thorney Island in May 2017 using a twin engined UAV supplied by Southampton University. The AIRSTART pod contains a receiver which performs fibre coupling of the laser, light amplification (EDFA-Erbium Doped Fibre Amplifier) and has a 5Gbps detector.

Further flights took place in August and late September to test the ground receiver and record the performance of the laser data link. The next test flights  scheduled to take place at Thorney Island will be EVLOS (Extended Visual Line Of Sight), using the laser guidance system, initially flown with a chase plane.