Boeing's Phantom Eye makes first flight

Washington DC
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The Boeing Phantom Eye, a hydrogen-powered unmanned air vehicle technology demonstrator, has made its first flight at Edwards AFB, California.

The flight lasted 28min and saw the vehicle reach over 4,000ft (1,220m) in height and speeds up to 62kt (115km/h). The vehicle sustained damage to the landing gear after it dug into the dry lakebed upon landing, the extent of which was not described.

 

Boeing

"We don't know yet [when it will fly again]. We're in the process of assessing the damage," says Boeing. "Beyond that I can't really give you a better picture, we're going to have to figure out where we're at."

The aircraft successfully completed a series of high-speed taxi trials in April 2012.

The Phantom Eye is designed to fly at altitudes up to 65,000ft for up to four days on end, with payloads up to 204kg (450lb). Boeing has funded the aircraft's development internally. There are currently no customers signed up to use the capability.

 

Boeing

The US military has a constant demand for such persistent, high-altitude reconnaissance capabilities for use in combat zones.

"This flight demonstrated Phantom Eye's initial handling and maneuverability capabilities," says Phantom Eye programme manager Drew Mallow. "The team is now analyzing data from the mission and preparing for our next flight. When we fly the demonstrator again, we will enter higher and more demanding envelopes of high-altitude flight."