Air­bus He­li­copters VSR700 goes solo

Pilot - - NOTES -

In De­cem­ber Air­bus He­li­copters’ Cabri G2-based VSR700 un­manned he­li­copter demon­stra­tor took off from the French mil­i­tary base at Istres on its first fully au­ton­o­mous flight. Its pur­pose was to es­tab­lish com­pli­ance with the de­mand­ing reg­u­la­tory and safety sys­tems nec­es­sary for fu­ture un­manned flight in France. Pi­loted and mon­i­tored from a ground sta­tion, it was air­borne for thirty min­utes dur­ing which it suc­cess­fully flew a va­ri­ety of flight pat­terns be­fore land­ing in au­ton­o­mous mode.

The VSR700 had been fly­ing au­tonomously since May 2017, but al­ways with a safety pi­lot aboard. ‘The diesel en­gine in­stalled to meet naval and mil­i­tary re­quire­ments has been fine tuned dur­ing this pe­riod and the au­to­matic flight con­trol sys­tems have been de­vel­oped to meet the new reg­u­la­tory stan­dards,’ says Air­bus. ‘This new crit­i­cal op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity is pur­su­ing its de­vel­op­ment plan and 2019 will see the roll­out of the pro­to­type.’

The VSR700 is in­tended to serve as a light mil­i­tary tac­ti­cal UAS, able to carry mul­ti­ple pay­loads, with an en­durance of around eight hours at a max­i­mum range of 100nm. De­signed to com­ple­ment rather than re­place manned he­li­copters, it will ini­tially of­fer ex­tended sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­i­ties for naval ves­sels rang­ing from small corvettes to large war­ships.

Look, ma - no hands at the con­trols

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