China Flies US-Designed VTOL UAV

RSS

China has completed the first fully autonomous flights of a new vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aircraft (VTUAV), the SVU-200.

All photos: Fetters AeroSpace

The SVU-200 was designed for Hunan Sunward Science and Technology of Changsha, China, by Dennis Fetters, who designed Air Command gyroplanes and the Mini-500 single-seat helicopter. Fetters retired in 2000 and now describes himself as a "gypsy rotorcraft designer". 

The SVU-200 is an improved version of the purposed-designed Star-Lite VTUAV Fetters began working on in the US. Fetters says he has been living in Changsha for the last two years, working with Sunward to train its engineers in the development and manufacturing of rotorcraft.

The work in China has transformed the SVU-200 "from a large helicopter flying under 'human-stabilized remote-control', to a fully self-stabilized and self-controlled GPS-navigating autonomous flying vehicle", he says. On it first autonomous flights in early September, the VTUAV took off, hovered and landed automatically. The aircraft then completed 4km- and 5km-long cross-country flights, navigating via GPS waypoints,

The SVU-200 has  a new rotor head and control system that Fetters claims provides "super-stable" control of the helicopter with only a tenth of computer-stabilizing control inputs required with other large unmanned helicopters. Here is video of the flights, but beware: it is quite long and the soundtrack is waaaay over the top...

With a maximum useful load of 200kg, the VTUAV has two internal payload bays, in the nose and in the rear. It is equipped with hardpoints and capable of carrying sling loads, or an external pod, and extended-range tanks. The Rotax 582 engine is fitted a Fetters-designed exhaust system that increases power from its normal 65hp to 78hp. Maximum speed is 209 km/h.

Fetters says he first worked in China after he retired and set up a small R&D machine shop in California to keep himself occupied. He began building prototypes for people and went to China for six months to work with a company that purchased one of his old designs and wanted to put it back into production. That project failed, he says.

Fetters' experience working in China led to an approach from He Qing Hua, CEO of Hunan Sunward Intelligent Machinery. "Over the next six years, I worked out of my California machine shop designing and building prototypes for Sunward, until two years ago when Mr. He made me an offer to move to China and work on the new SVU-200 UAV together." The contract is finished, but Fetters says he'll "stick around to make sure the speed-trials of the SVU-200 are successful."

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week's defense blog

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

 

Aug 27, 2015
blog

Aviation Week Lifts Veil On Boeing B-52 Bomber (1952) 12

In 1952, Aviation Week provided the first details on the new Boeing B-52 bomber....More
Aug 14, 2015
blog

Bonanza Travel Pays 3

The legendary Beechcraft Bonanza has an impressive production record, so perhaps the marketers back in 1949 were onto something when they coined the phrase "Bonanza travel pays."...More
Aug 14, 2015
blog

Venerable Boeing 727 Prototype To Fly Again 28

The most famous 727, the prototype aircraft which would join United as N7001U, was delivered to the airline in October 1964 having served its time as a Boeing test aircraft....More
Aug 13, 2015
blog

Aviation Week And The Bomb

Aviation News did not predict how nuclear weapons would change the world. But neither did anyone else....More
Aug 13, 2015
blog

Collins Radar Takes The Ups And Downs Out Of Flying

Turbulence? Rockwell Collins had a solution for those bumpy rides in the early 80s with its WXR-700 Doppler Weather Radar....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×