Airbus Helicopters will in the coming days perform the first unmanned flights of the optionally piloted demonstrator of its VSR700 surveillance asset.
Based on the Hélicoptères Guimbal Cabri G2 single-engined piston rotorcraft, flights of the VSR700 have so far been conducted with a safety pilot on board.
Earlier this year, French procurement body DGA awarded Airbus Helicopters a contract to begin de-risking studies to enable trial operations of the 700kg (1,540lb) VSR700 from naval vessels.
France hopes to deploy rotary-wing UAVs developed under its SDAM programme from the mid-2020s.
The VSR700 replaces the G2's Lycoming O-360-J2A engine with a new diesel powerplant to decrease fuel consumption. It is being developed jointly with France's Naval Group.
Airbus Helicopters has a full-scale mock-up of the vertical take-off and landing asset on display outside its Farnborough air show chalet.
Source: Flight Daily News