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Boeing's Phantom Eye autonomous aircraft makes its first flight


June 5, 2012

Boeing's Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft made its first flight on June 1st

Boeing's Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft made its first flight on June 1st

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After four years of development, Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft made its first flight last Friday. It took place at Edwards Air Force Base in California, with the dual-propeller-driven aircraft lifting off of its launch cart at 6:22am PST.

In the course of the ensuing 28-minute flight, Phantom Eye climbed to an altitude of 4,080 feet (1,244 meters) and reached a speed of 62 knots. The Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft is actually designed to go as high as 65,000 feet (19,812 meters), carrying a maximum payload of 450 pounds (204 kg), staying aloft for up to four days at a time.

Boeing's Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft lifts off from its launch cart

According to Boeing personnel, the flight marked a successful demonstration of Phantom Eye’s fuel, propulsion, guidance and navigation systems, among others. The ending was a bit of an anticlimax, as the landing gear stuck in the dry lake bed that the aircraft was landing on, and broke.

Data from the flight is now being analyzed, with a higher-altitude, more demanding second flight already being planned.

More details are available in the video below.

Source: Boeing

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

the cart broke..lololol. I doubt the aircraft weighs much, they could have incorporated a built in landing gear made of mostly composites to keep the weight down, and wouldn't hurt its endurance to much.

Derek Howe

landing successfully is kinda important don't ya think? epic fail here

Bill Bennett

A very nicely-designed aircraft - well done, Boeing! I wonder if the fuel cells in this aircraft use platinum or not? It'd be good if they don't, given how hugely-expensive platinum is.


re; Bill Bennett

It hit the one bad spot in the whole lake bed and you call it an epic fail. Really?


@mooseman The high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) Phantom Eye is powered by two highly-efficient, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder Ford Ranger truck engines that run on hydrogen and emit only water. Ford began working on this technology about a decade ago. No fuel cells, no platinum.

Lou Muzzin
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