Liquid-hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye UAV makes 1st autonomous flightNews
June 05, 2012
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. The Phantom Eye unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ? a liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft from Boeing -- made its first autonomous flight from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. During the 28-minute flight the UAV rose 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. This latest flight test followed a series of taxi tests this spring that validated navigation and control, ground guidance, mission planning, pilot interface and operational procedures.
The autonomous test flight demonstrated the UAV’s initial handling and maneuverability capabilities, says Drew Mallow, Program Manager for Phantom Eye at Boeing. Phantom Eye program engineers are analyzing information from the mission as well as preparing for the next flight, he adds. The next Phantom Eye demonstrator flight will have the UAV perform in higher and more demanding high-altitude flight envelopes, Mallow says.
The Phantom Eye liquid-hydrogen propulsion system will enable the UAV to stay on station for as long as four days while providing persistent monitoring over large geographic areas at a ceiling of as high as 65,000 feet, creating only water as its byproduct. The demonstrator, which has a 150-foot wingspan, can carry a 450-pound payload.