Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 prototype performs first autonomous free flight

©Airbus VSR700 helicopter

The prototype of Airbus Helicopters’ VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) has performed its first free flight. The VSR700 performed a ten minute flight at a drone test center near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.

This is a significant step in the program following the first flight in November 2019 when the prototype was tethered to comply with regulatory requirements.

To enable this free flight, Airbus Helicopters implemented geofencing, a virtual perimeter, which enabled and justified a flight clearance from airworthiness authorities for free flight. The flight test program will now evolve to progressively open the flight envelope.

The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s 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.

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