FARNBOROUGH: Phantom Ray to get 747 piggyback ride to California

Washington DC
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Boeing's medium-altitude Phantom Ray unmanned air vehicle will get a piggyback ride on a 747 to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California for testing, the company announced at the show.

The 15.2m (50ft) wing on the aircraft are not removable, says Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, and working out how to move the UAV has been going on "for some time."

Funding from the Commercial Space Act is making it possible to modify one of the jets NASA uses to move the Space Shuttles from place to place for the Phantom Ray, Boeing says.

747 phantom ray, billypix
 © Billypix

With no wing break on the hardwing attachment, taking the UAV apart and moving it over land would have been daunting and time consuming, Davis says.

© Boeing

Phantom Ray, which was unveiled 10 May, is in St Louis, where it will perform low-speed taxi testing before heading west. At Dryden, "in the very near future," the UAV technology demonstrator will also undergo high-speed taxis and other testing. Boeing still plans to begin its 10-flight series of flight tests before the end of the year, Davis says.