Boeing's Phantom Eye Makes First Autonomous Flight
June 5, 2012 12:30 PM
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After the Phantom Eye landed, it was slightly damaged when the landing gear hit the lakebed and broke
Boeing sent its Phantom Eye
unmanned airborne system
(UAS) on its first autonomous flight last week.
Boeing's Phantom Eye is a hydrogen-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is propeller-driven. The aircraft uses two 2.3 liter, four-cylinder engines capable of pushing 300 horsepower total and can loiter above a target for up to 10 days. Its main purpose is to gather information or conduct attack missions.
took off at 6:22 a.m. PST for a 28-minute flight. It reached an altitude of 4,080 feet and a speed of 62 knots. The flight took place June 1 at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
"This day ushers in a new era of persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaisance (ISR) where an unmanned aircraft will remain on station for days at a time providing critical information and services," said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works. "This flight puts Boeing on a path to accomplish another aerospace first -- the capability of four days of unrefueled, autonomous flight."
After the Phantom Eye landed, it was slightly damaged when the landing gear hit the lakebed and broke. But overall, the flight was a success.
Previous to the June 1 flight, the Phantom Eye took part in a series of tests throughout April, such as navigation and control, pilot interface, and mission planning.
The Phantom Eye used for demonstration purposes has a 150-foot wingspan and can carry a 450-pound payload. It can fly up to 96 hours without needing to land, but Boeing is looking to make a new model in 2014 that can fly up to 240 hours without landing.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
6/5/2012 2:46:09 PM
It may also be that the operational altitude of the aircraft is high enough (note that first test flights never explore the highest, fastest, or most interesting portions of an aircraft's flight envelope) and the duration long enough that it is easier to use hydrogen than to keep a hydrocarbon fuel heated.
Hmmmm... I wonder if heating a hydrocarbon fuel to keep it liquid would make it more vulnerable to IR detection?
Just my two pennies.
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