Vanilla Aircraft's VA001 UAS completes five-day flight
Vanilla Aircraft's VA001 UAS recently completed a historic flight, as it flew for a little over five days for a total of 121.4 hours.
After taking off on October 18 from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the UAS began its long endurance test flight, and landed safely 5.1 days later, with three days of fuel remaining on board.
Vanilla Aircraft says that the flight is the “longest flight for an ultra-long endurance unmanned aircraft system that has the capability of carrying a payload of significant size weight and power that can meet or exceed military and commercial requirements.”
Powered by an extremely efficient propulsion system, and configured with a pusher prop configuration, the Vanilla Aircraft VA001 is capable of carrying payloads up to 50 pounds and 1.1 cubic feet volume. It can also supply up to 800 watts to the payload bay.
Thanks to its ultra-long endurance, the UAS can perform a plethora of missions. Its ultra-long endurance capability provides the end-user with a “persistent capability for military and commercial applications.”
For the military, the aircraft’s payload bay can support a variety of militarized payloads like Electro-Optical and Infrared imagers, a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and SIGINT systems, while commercially, the UAS can be used for mapping, emergency 4G cellular networks and airborne internet distribution.
Aside from its many potential uses, the UAS also has a simple design, which allows for lower maintenance costs, ultimately resulting in a lower operating cost.
Back in February 2015, the Vanilla Aircraft VA001 completed its first autonomous flight.
Each flight since then has “further proved the design of the aircraft and expanded the flight envelop,” and every flight has landed safely upon its conclusion.
“This flight along with the nine preceding flights show this is a viable and reliable technology and brings this transformative capability to reality,” comments Tim Heely, CEO of Vanilla Aircraft.