Airbus subsidiary demonstrates delivery by drone in France


Engineers at Airbus have successfully tested a drone and flight tracking technology from a fleet management station for the first time in northern France.

The flight testing is part of a three-month campaign being conducted at E-Valley Park, the site of the former Cambrai airbase in the Hauts-de-France region. The testing is part of a study to assess the economic viability of so-called “delivery-by-drone” operations in the region.

The tests used a fixed-wing Survey Copter DVF200ER thermal propulsion high endurance system, and a Drone Volt VTOL (vertical take off and landing) electric mini drone. The drones were modified with Airbus avionics and successfully demonstrated their first simulated delivery mission earlier this month.

The project is the first time a French local state authority has participated in a delivery-by-drone research project with industry and the aviation regulatory authorities.

The study, which integrates drone operations over semi-urban and countryside environments is being run by Survey Copter, a subsidiary of Airbus.

Nicolas Askamp, head of Survey Copter said, “We are extremely pleased with the results of this partnership between this northern province of France and the French and European aviation authorities, which is opening new doors to a promising cargo drone business.

“It is a whole new reflection on drone flights, over semi-urban and surrounding countryside environments and into the principles of fleet management over these territories.”

Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region said, “Linking drone fleets between various logistic hubs in the Hauts-de-France region can now be seen to be a viable objective, marking a further successful step in our project for the region’s economic development, reinforcing again our vision of innovation as a fundamental tool to boost our local economy.”

Survey Copter was founded in 1996 and was bought by Airbus in 2011.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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