Flight Test Regime Will Now Explore Full Envelope
Airbus Helicopters’ prototype VSR700 UAS has conducted its first free flight near Aix-en-Provence, the company announced on 7 August.
The ten-minute flight marked a significant step in the programme, following the first tethered flight in November last year. Geofencing was implemented to facilitate this free flight and the flight test programme will now evolve to progressively open the flight envelope.
“The free flight achieved by the VSR700 is a major step leading up to the sea trials that will be performed at the end of 2021 as part of the de-risking studies for the French Navy’s future drone,” commented Bruno Even, CEO Airbus Helicopters. “Thanks to the French PlanAero, the programme will make full use of two demonstrators and an optionally piloted vehicle to develop and mature the technical and operational aspects for successful UAS operations in a naval environment.”
Derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s CABRI G2, the VSR700 is a UAS in the 500-1,000kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational costs and is capable of carrying multiple full-sized naval sensors for extended periods, operating from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.
This VSR700 prototype has evolved over the nine months since its maiden flight. Modifications have been made to the air vehicle, alongside autopilot software evolutions and updates, as well as structural modifications and reinforcements.