The prototype of Airbus Helicopters VSR700
unmanned aerial system (UAS) has performed its first free flight.
The VSR700 performed a 10-minute flight at a
drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.
The free flight
first flight in November 2019 when the prototype was
tethered to comply with regulatory requirements. To enable this
latest flight, Airbus Helicopters implemented geofencing, a virtual perimeter, which enabled and justified a flight clearance from
airworthiness authorities for free flight. The flight test programme will now evolve to progressively open the flight
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
Navys future drone, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.
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.
The VSR700, derived
from Hélicoptères Guimbals Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system
in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range.
It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors
for extended periods and can operate from existing ships,
alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.
This VSR700 prototype has evolved over the last nine months since
its maiden flight. The programme implemented the geofencing
function, as well as a Flight Termination System allowing the
mission to be ended if necessary.
Modifications have also been
performed to the air vehicle, alongside autopilot software
evolutions and updates, as well as structural modifications and