Schiebel has made its first S-100 Camcopter flights with a heavy fuel engine at its test centre in Weiner Neustadt, Austria.
The heavy fuel engine, which the company says is interchangeable with its current 50hp avgas engine, is designed to appeal to the naval users that could form a coveted market for unmanned helicopters.
"We listen to our customers, and then we build the features they ask for," says company chairman Hans Georg Schiebel. "The new fuel options will be a big advantage to all our customers worldwide across all markets, offering them even more flexibility."
The S-100, which boasts a main-bay payload capacity of 50kg (110lb) and an endurance upwards of 6h, is the most popular of the small-but-growing vertical take-off UAV market. Manufacturers are offering an increasingly greater diversity of unmanned helicopters, from aircraft the size of insects to the Boeing A160, which is the same size as a full-scale manned helicopter.
Modifying the Camcopter with a heavy fuel engine allows the aircraft to use the same gasoline as heavy trucks, aircraft and ships, enabling users to simply their purchase, supply and storage logistics. The modification is particularly valuable to maritime users, where accommodating several types of fuel is especially onerous. The US military also has a heavy fuel requirement to simplify its logistics chain for forces deployed in remote areas.
Schiebel did not immediately respond to questions.