in Defence

Airbus VSR700 helicopter demonstrator performs first autonomous flights

Posted 20 June 2017 · Add Comment

Airbus Helicopters recently started autonomous flight trials of a VSR700 Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) demonstrator, paving the way for a first flight of the actual VSR700 prototype in 2018.


A light military rotary-wing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle, the VSR700 is being developed jointly by Airbus Helicopters and Helicopteres Guimbal, the original manufacturer of the civil-certified Cabri G2 helicopter from which the VSR700 is derived.

“We are pleased to have achieved this milestone only eight months after starting work on the OPV” said Regis Antomarchi, head of the VSR700 programme at Airbus Helicopters. “The OPV is able to autonomously take-off, hover and perform stabilized flight and maneuvers. It will help us mature the technologies associated to autonomous flight and confirm the suitability of the Cabri G2 platform for the VSR700, ahead of the first flight of the prototype next year”, he added. 

“Passing this first step of autonomous flights with a safety pilot onboard allows us to validate the integration of Airbus Helicopters’ flight control system with the aerial vehicle and its specific engine installation” said Bruno Guimbal, President & CEO of Helicopteres Guimbal.

This phase of flight trials with a safety pilot will focus on refining Airbus Helicopters’ automatic flight control system aboard the OPV, eventually leading to fully autonomous flights without a safety pilot. The VSR 700 flight control system is a fully-digital, multi-channel system with a very high level of redundancy. It takes advantage of Airbus Helicopters unique expertise in digital autopilots.

Sea trials of a manned Cabri G2 have also recently taken place with the support of a French Navy air defence frigate in order to assess the flight envelope of the VSR700 platform for shipborne operations

The VSR700 will be capable of carrying a wide array of mission equipment with a maximum capacity of up to 250 kg. Depending on the mission, its endurance could exceed 10 hours. 

Developed to meet navies’ requirements for a shipborne rotary-wing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle and complement to manned helicopters, it could also be used in land-based military operations to carry out ISTAR (Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions, thanks to the VSR700’s optical sensors and maritime/land radar. 

The VSR700 will have a much lower operating cost than a helicopter not only thanks to its well-proven civil base vehicle and low-consumption diesel engine, but also because it requires fewer resources and less manpower to operate and maintain it.

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Latest News

Aerosud Aviation in partnership with DB Schenker South Africa

Aerosud Aviation has selected DB Schenker South Africa as its new logistics partner.

Africa's first "civil" C295 begins humanitarian operations from Kenya

DAC Aviation International has received the first Airbus C295 to be used on the civil registry in Africa,

Angola orders C295s for maritime surveillance

Angola has ordered three C295 transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space, writes Jon Lake.

Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics in strategic collaboration for Commercial Aviation

Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) have agreed a strategic collaboration, for an initial ten-year period, that enables them to combine their highly complementary market leading services to offer broadband

AAD: Helix – the manned ISR platform

CADG chose AAD to launch its new manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platform – Helix.

AAD: Aurecon bringing its African ideas to life

Aurecon was at AAD for the first time to highlight its engineering capabilities and products. “We want to become a true African business,” explained managing director, Africa, Ferdi Nell.

TAA SK1009311218
See us at
AAD2018 BTAirCargoAFA_BT220318210219AviationAfrica_BT0607280219MarrakechAirshow BT2507241018