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Phantom Eye Demonstrator   (Source: Boeing)
Phantom Eye is powered by Hydrogen

Boeing has unveiled the Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system. The Phantom Eye is a “green” aircraft that is powered by hydrogen and produces water as its only byproduct. The hydrogen power plant is said to be the key element of the design.

Phantom Eye, which appears to be the production version of HALE, will be able to cruise at up to 65,000 feet for up to four days at a speed of as high as 150 knots. The payload capacity of the aircraft is 450 pounds. The engines used in the aircraft are a pair of four-cylinder power plants with 150 horsepower each. The engines are provided by Ford.

"Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications," Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said today at the unveiling ceremony in St. Louis. "It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The capabilities inherent in Phantom Eye's design will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers."

Boeing states that Phantom Eye will be shipped to the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base later this summer for a series of ground and taxi tests. The maiden voyage of the Phantom Eye aircraft is set for early 2011. Phantom Eye has a 150-foot wingspan.

Boeing has been in the news recently for its new tanker designed to compete in the multi-billion dollar tanker bid program for the Air Force. The company announced this week that it had submitted its 8,000-page bid proposal to the Air Force for consideration for the contract, which is one of the largest ever offered for aircraft. 

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Fuel cell for high altitude?
By NARC4457 on 7/13/2010 1:31:30 PM , Rating: 3
So I'm guessing that the fuel cell is not really to make it a 'green' vehicle, but rather is used to enable high-altitude flying where there's not enough oxygen for a traditional engine.

Just a guess, but I'm quite sure that eco-friendly is not a design hallmark that Boeing cares about other than how (in this case) it adds capability to the aircraft.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By Klober on 7/13/2010 2:53:51 PM , Rating: 2
The problem here is that it is not powered by a fuel cell but rather a hydrogen engine - which still needs oxygen to burn.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By NARC4457 on 7/13/2010 3:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
True. I am thinking that it needs less oxygen than a traditional combustion jet engine, but that could be totally off base. It's almost twice as high as a traditional airliner, so it's got to be accounted for in some manner.

At 65,000ft there is only 6% O2 compared to sea level; 35,000 has 26% so it's quite a difference.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By knutjb on 7/13/2010 8:02:32 PM , Rating: 2
Look how high the U2 flies. It has a conventional jet engine.

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By NARC4457 on 7/14/2010 12:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
Operational ceiling of a U2 is 70K and used a TurboJet engine. So yeah, it's possible. Probably not efficient at that altitude, but doable. *shrug*

RE: Fuel cell for high altitude?
By knutjb on 7/14/2010 3:53:55 PM , Rating: 2
So yeah, it's possible. Probably not efficient at that altitude, but doable.
Uh... they've been doing it since the 50s. The airframe is very efficient and it uses around 3000 gallons for 12+ hrs. So its neither possible, probable, or doable, those words are speculative and the plane works and that is not speculative.

By Divide Overflow on 7/13/2010 11:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
And what, exactly, is the problem with that?

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