After the launch of the programme in early 2018, VSR700 underwent an initial series of tests, trying the aircraft’s basic functions. It has since seen numerous advancements, as the system performed its first fully autonomous take-off and landing over a moving platform in late 2020. What’s next for VSR700? “In 2021, one of our key objectives is to secure the flight performance of the future Système de Drone Aérien pour la Marine (SDAM) demonstrator, which will perform a sea trial mid-2022. This is expected to be achieved with two major campaigns this year,” explained Nicolas Delmas, head of the VSR700 programme.
The first campaign aims at expanding VSR700’s flight envelope. The process was in the works well before last month’s test flight and is continuously redefined by a team of engineers. Delmas noted that the coming together of people with various occupations and expertise greatly contributed to the test flight’s success: “Such a result was made possible only thanks to the hard work, tenacity, and commitment of different individuals with their diverse experience and competencies, who joined their forces to succeed together, as a team.”
During the envelope expansion campaign, the team explores the capabilities of the new aircraft, in order to monitor its response while performing at different speed levels, or covering a chosen distance. “The objective is to test the aircraft’s reaction when flying in conditions it hasn’t encountered yet, speed, altitude or mass-wise,” explained Arnaud Mesnil, Flight Test Engineer of the VSR700 programme. As a result, the only way to assess the system’s behaviour and prepare it for its future missions is to make it fly.