Frontier Systems has flight tested avionics and software for its A160 Hummingbird vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding development of the 48h endurance, 5,500km (3,000nm) range A160 (Flight International, 21-27 July).

The key Hummingbird technologies were flown in an unmanned Robinson R22 helicopter controlled by a Frontier ground station. The first flight, lasting 2.5h, was conducted largely in autonomous mode at Frontier's facility near Victorville, California. Further flights of 1.75h and 3.5h followed. "All three flights in the initial flight series successfully transpired according to plan," says DARPA. Three flight test A160s are to be built, with first flight due before the end of this year.

DARPA says the goal is to develop helicopter with optimum performance across a wide envelope of blade rotational speeds and to achieve a significant increase in hover and cruise altitudes.

Source: Flight International