A Boeing A-160 Hummingbird unmanned aircraft was destroyed after a mishap in the final moments of a record-setting 12h flight. The long-endurance rotorcraft was nearing the end of the mission when it started to lose power and began a swift, but controlled, descent. Boeing says the aircraft maintained a stable attitude and responded to steering commands, but was unable to slow its downward speed.

The A-160 crash-landed on a steep slope near the intended landing site, says Boeing. It tipped over on landing and caught fire, rendering the airframe a total loss.

The accident is being investigated jointly by Boeing and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which sponsors the Hummingbird programme. It is the third known crash of an A-160, which has accumulated 31 flights and 60 flight hours.

The mishap interrupts a streak of progress for the A-160 programme, which has prospered since Boeing acquired Hummingbird designer Frontier Systems. DARPA is transitioning the programme to the US Army, while the US Navy has awarded Boeing a contract to build several more aircraft. Another A-160 is set to fly and a second is undergoing ground tests.


Source: Flight International