Aero-Nautic Services & Engineering / A-NSE A-N 400

A-N400 (A-NSE company)


The French company Aero-Nautic Services & Engineering (A-NSE) tested in 2013 a demonstrator of an airship designed for marine surveillance missions. During the campaign carried out in Hyères, the data gathered by the airship was live-transmitted to the ground via a data link provided by Thales Communications Security.




The aircraft is raised by helium, the engine only being used to propel it, which makes it much more economical and gives it greater endurance than an aeroplane. Airships are very stable and manoeuvrable, and can hover if required. In technical terms airships have evolved considerably, with the use of new materials and the emergence of new technology making them cost-efficient and effective for civilian and military applications,” explains Baptiste Regas, Managing Director of A-NSE.

According to the young French company based in Montrouge near Paris, whose Angoulême site has produced the AN 400, the airship can complement the airborne resources currently in service. “Airships are much more economical and can be used as guards, thereby saving the potential of aeroplanes on certain missions. So, they could carry out marine surveillance up to one hundred nautical miles from the coast, extending the detection range of the network of signal stations on the coastline. In such cases, aeroplanes could be reserved for remote missions or operations requiring great speed, such as marine search and rescue. The idea is not to replace the aeroplane – it is a truly complementary resource to current capacities.”




Although certain countries, such as the United States and Germany, are showing a renewed interest in airships for the purposes of marine surveillance, the models currently being used are based on a traditional implementation design. As in the good old days, aircraft are launched from land and brought back to earth by means of ropes with 15 people involved in the landing procedure. This manual technique is potentially dangerous, but also costly in terms of personnel. Which is why A-NSE has developed and patented a new design, by means of which its airship can land on the sea. During the approach over the sea or a lake, a system of ballast located at the rear is deployed on each side of the aircraft and draws in water to add weight to and stabilise the airship. Then, once the machine is on the surface, it anchors to a mooring buoy. “This tested technique substantially reduces operating costs by eliminating the need for ground personnel.”


Engine: 2 x 18 hp
Envelope volume: 400 cu.m
Max. diameter: 5,5 m
Length: 25 m
Max. weight at take-off: 400 kg
Empty weight: 240 kg
Payload: 160 kg
Min. speed: 0 km/h
Cruise speed: 65 km/h
Max. speed: 85 km/h
Climb rate: 5  m/s
Endurance at 0 km/h : 10 h
Endurance at max. speed : 6 h
Action range: 390 km
Max. wind at take-off: 45 km/h
Altitude: 100 to 3000 ft
AIS A & B (range): 210 km
Radar (range): 100 km
EO/IR (range): 30 km
Communication system: 50 km