Boeing has revealed the world’s first unmanned hydrogen-powered aircraft. The Phantom Eye is designed specifically for high altitude missions such as surveillance.
The aircraft will fly at 65,000 feet for up to four days and is powered by twin two litre, four cylinder, hydrogen engines. The engines provide 150 horsepower each. Meanwhile, the wingspan is over 150 foot and allows the craft to cruise at approximately 150 knots and can carry up to a 450 pound payload.
Darryl Davis, President of Boeing Phantom Works, stated, “Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications. 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.”
The plane was unveiled during a ceremony at St.Louis, earlier this week on 12th July. Later this summer, the Phantom Eye will be transported to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Centre at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Whilst at the facility, the aircraft will undergoe a range of ground and taxi tests in anticipation of its first flight in early 2011.
Drew Mallow, the Phantom Eye Program Manager for Boeing, commented, “The program is moving quickly, and it’s exciting to be part of such a unique aircraft. 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 by-product is water, so it's also an environmentally responsible aircraft.”