Establishment of HAPCOS

This COST Action (297) commenced formal operation in 2005. This followed some 5 years of growing interest and activities in HAPs, primarily for communications. It was apparent to the Chair (Tim Tozer) that in order for the HAP sector to become better established, there needed to be a dialogue between interested potential stakeholders, and such dialogue was generally not happening. In particular, although there was a good deal of interest in communications services and technology, with some successful EC-funded projects (e.g. HeliNet, CAPANINA), the people involved in this did not seem to talk with people who might be involved with building the platforms themselves. Similarly, although the potential for Remote Sensing was highly apparent, people working in that sector did not seem to integrate with those interested in other applications or with platform manufacturers.

Thus the idea was born to set up a mechanism for the exchange of research ideas within Europe. This resulted in 2004 in a proposal for a COST Action, which was duly approved in early 2005. The main objective of COST297 is: To increase knowledge and understanding of the use of High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) for delivery of communications and other services, by exploring, researching and developing new methods, analyses, techniques and strategies for developers, service providers, system integrators and regulators.

Is it working?
Yes, very much so in some senses. COST297 is engendering lively collaboration between European researchers: most notably in the areas of wireless communications and optical communications from HAPs. But also regarding HAPs themselves, and other applications such as remote sensing. At the last count, we had 17 countries signed up, and our meetings are typically attended by around 60 people. The big challenge perhaps, and one where ideas would be welcome, is to bring on board more parties interested in the HAP vehicles themselves, and to further integrate with those interested in remote sensing and related applications.