The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) performed its first flight at a drone test centre near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France on Friday, November 8.
The VSR700 performed several take-offs and landings with the longest flight lasting around 10 minutes, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
In accordance with the airworthiness authority that provided the flight clearance, the VSR700 was tethered with 30-metre cables to fully secure the flight test zone. The subsequent phases of the flight test programme will now evolve towards free flight, and then progressively open the flight envelope.
“This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the programme as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group," said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.
The VSR700 is derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2. It is capable of carrying multiple full size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate in existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.
The VSR700 prototype which has just performed its maiden flight is a step change from the optionally piloted demonstrator that first flew in 2017 and which was based on a modified Cabri G2 equipped for autonomous flight. Compared to the demonstrator, the VSR700 prototype has a specialized set of avionics and an advanced flight control system, a payload bay in place of the pilot station designed to manage mission equipment, as well as a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape to improve flight performance.