Boeing has announced that its Phantom Eye high altitude unmanned airborne system made its first autonomous flight from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California on June 1.
The hydrogen fuelled UAS flew for 28 minutes, climbing to an altitude of 4080 feet and a 62kt cruising speed before landing back at Edwards AFB. Upon landing, the aircraft sustained some damage when the landing gear dug into the lake and broke.
“This day ushers in a new era of persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (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.”
Phantom Eye is being funded by Boeing and is part of a series of rapid prototyping programs being conducted by the company.