Posted by John McHale
"Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications," says Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works. "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."
Later this summer, the Phantom Eye UAV will be shipped to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to 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," says 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 cruise at approximately 150 knots and can carry up to a 450-pound payload.
Key Phantom Eye suppliers and partners include Ford Motor Co. (engines); Aurora Flight Sciences (wing); Mahle Powertrain (propulsion controls); Ball Aerospace (fuel tanks); Turbosolutions Engineering (turbochargers); the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); and NASA.