14 October 2020 | Design and Manufacturing

High-Performance Flight Testing Like No Other

Each and every aircraft manufactured by Viking UAS and Skyfire has been tested to extreme environments and performance envelopes that most clients will never see in the field. Our rigorous flight test procedures meet or exceed military standards for UAS to ensure safe, reliable operations – even in conditions and scenarios that would be impossible for a client to ever experience.

Most of our drones include built-in fail-safes that ensure no customer can exceed certain speeds and g-loads in the field. During airframe testing we disable the speed and g-limiters. We then hand over the sticks to the world’s best racing pilots and have them manually put the drone through high-speed, high-g maneuvers. We encourage our test pilots to do everything they can to bend, stress, and break the airframes. Only after an airframe successfully completes hundreds of hours of extreme testing without damage does it go on to the next phase of development.

Our aircraft often experience g-loads well in excess of 100 g during testing. To put that in perspective, the world’s most sophisticated fighter jets are limited to 7-9 g’s, depending on aircraft. The F-14 Maverick flew in Top Gun has a 7-g limit in real life.

The infamous 1954 rocket sled test – the most extreme human g-test in history – accelerated Colonel John Stapp to a speed faster than a 45 caliber bullet and subjected him to a force equivalent to four tons. His 46.2 g record still stands to this day.

Accelerometers measured a force of over 130 g’s during recent flight testing of a new Viking aircraft in development. Not only did the aircraft survive, but it was able to pull the same g-loads over and over again without damage. If a 200-lb. firefighter were theoretically subjected
to a 130-g maneuver, he or she would weigh 26,000 lbs.

Some would argue this level of testing is overkill. However, with so much at stake with public safety operations, we do everything we can to ensure our clients receive the most robust and reliable solutions on the market.