First autonomous flight for Phantom Eye
Boeing has announced that its Phantom Eye unmanned aerial system (UAS) has completed its first autonomous flight on 1 June 2012, at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Centre at Edwards Air Force Base. The company made the announcement 4 June, 2012.
According to the company, the 28-minute flight began at 6:22 am Pacific time as the liquid-hydrogen powered aircraft lifted off its launch cart. Phantom Eye climbed to an altitude of 4,080 feet and reached a cruising speed of 62 knots. After touching down, the vehicle sustained some damage when the landing gear dug into the lakebed and broke.
The flight took place following a series of taxi tests in April that validated ground guidance, navigation and control, mission planning, pilot interface and operational procedures.
Phantom Eye's innovative and environmentally responsible liquid-hydrogen propulsion system will allow the aircraft to stay on station for up to four days while providing persistent monitoring over large areas at a ceiling of up to 65,000 feet, creating only water as a by-product. The demonstrator, with its 150-foot wingspan, is capable of carrying a 450-pound payload.
The aircraft is the latest in a series of Boeing-funded rapid prototyping programmes, which include Phantom Ray, Echo Ranger, ScanEagle Compressed Carriage, and an associated Common Open Mission Management Command and Control (COMC2) system capable of managing all of the company's unmanned assets.
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