Boeing said its liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is progressing towards a second flight, following the completion of a successful taxi test at Edwards Air Force Base last week.
The demonstrator UAS, sitting on its launch cart, achieved speeds of up to 40 knots (46 miles per hour). The Phantom Eye team upgraded the autonomous flight system and added other software and hardware upgrades to prepare for flying at higher altitudes.
The aircraft’s liquid-hydrogen propulsion system will allow it to stay on station for up to four days at a ceiling of up to 65,000 feet. The Phantom Eye has a 150-foot wingspan and a 450-pound payload.
Boeing said the landing system has been improved after the Phantom Eye’s landing gear collapsed following the first flight in 2012.
"We've drawn on Boeing’s experience to come up with a solution, using our tactical fighter aircraft landing systems as an example," said Brad Shaw, chief engineer on the Phantom Eye team.
Related: Unmanned Aircraft Systems News