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Airbus tests optionally piloted helicopter at sea

Airbus has begun testing its VSR700 unmanned aerial system for autonomous take-off and landing (ATOL) capabilities at sea. An optionally piloted vehicle (OPV), based on a modified Guimbal Cabri G2, was used during the trial. The OPV was equipped with the autonomous take-off and landing system developed for the VSR700."These tests in real-life conditions constitute a crucial step towards the campaign that we will conduct at sea with the DGA and French Navy later this year," explained Nicolas Delmas, head of the VSR700 program for Airbus Helicopters. The OPV's test campaign was conducted off the coast of Brest, France, on board a civilian vessel equipped with a helicopter landing deck. Not only did this allow for a demonstration of the ATOL capabilities, but it also allowed for approach procedures before landing on the vessel to be assessed.The VSR700 is being developed for the French Navy, meaning the rotorcraft needs to be fully compatible with naval operations.Using the Airbus DeckFinder, the VSR700 will be able to take off and land autonomously on ship decks in all weather conditions and at any point during the day or night. In total, 150 launches and recoveries took place during this phase of testing.The OPV carries one test pilot during system testing before being integrated into the fully autonomous VSR700.The test campaign's next step is to demonstrate the VSR700 at sea onboard a French Navy frigate.Two years ago, the first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight and later expanded its flight envelope in 2021. A second prototype was ordered in April 2021 to focus on trials covering SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) requirements and to speed up the development process.
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