The Boréal can fly for hours and is certified for BVLOS operations. Image:Boréal/Groupe Mistral

French maritime authority tests c-drone for commercial fishing surveillance

Agriculture • mining • environment Security • law enforcement • countermeasures

The French maritime authority, the Direction des Affaires Maritimes (DAM), and Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) has tested a fixed-wing c-drone for monitoring fishing boats near Saint-Brieuc in Brittany nearly 20km (12 mi) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

Dubbed the “orange seagull” by local fishermen according to a report by France Bleu, the Boréal c-drone flew two four-hour missions on November 20 and 22 at altitudes from 500 to 2000 feet (150 to 610 m), testing visual identification of boat registration numbers and stability in windy conditions (over 80 km/h / 50 mph). Scallop poaching is a problem on the western coast of France, and maritime surveillance of the territorial waters is usually performed by manned aircraft. For the tests, the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) cleared the offshore airspace.

The Boréal is powered by an electric motor, has a wingspan of 4.2m (165 in), length of 1.5m (59 in), weighs 25 kg (55 lb) with a 5 kg (11 lb) payload and according to its maker has a range of 10 hours or 1000 km (621 mi) at a cruising speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). It is launched from a catapult on a mobile trailer or set up in a field and can fly on a preprogrammed route, monitored by a pilot who takes control for the final approach and landing. The c-drone is equipped with electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors for situational awareness and site inspection in its Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) configuration and can also be used for YellowScan Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and other mapping missions.

Boréal the company was founded in 2011 by Michel Gavart and in 2015 became part of Groupe Mistral, a Toulouse-based firm specialized in geopositioning of autonomous systems. Boréal’s sister company, M3 Systems, provides engineering services in satellite radio-navigation (GNSS) and Air Traffic Management (ATM).