Boeing Unveils Hydrogen Powered Phantom Eye Demonstrator

The Boeing Company recently took the wraps off its hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned aircraft, a demonstrator that will fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet for up to four days. The plane was developed in collaboration with Ford Motor Company (engines), Aurora Flight Sciences (wing), Mahle Powertrain (propulsion controls), Ball Aerospace (fuel tanks), Turbosolutions Engineering (turbochargers), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and NASA.

"Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications,"
Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said at the unveiling ceremony in St. Louis.

"It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The capabilities inherent in Phantom Eye's design will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers."

According to the company, the Phantom Eye will be shipped to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base later this summer, where it will begin a series of ground and taxi tests in preparation for its first flight in early 2011. That debut flight is expected to last between four and eight hours.

"The program is moving quickly, and it’s exciting to be part of such a unique aircraft,"
said Drew Mallow, Phantom Eye program manager for Boeing. "The hydrogen propulsion system will be the key to Phantom Eye's success. It is very efficient and offers great fuel economy, and its only byproduct is water, so it's also a 'green' aircraft."

Phantom Eye is powered by two 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engines that provide 150 horsepower each. It has a 150-foot wingspan, will reportedly cruise at approximately 150 knots and can carry up to a 450-pound payload.
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