Boeing has successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype, which took place in Manassas, Virginia.
Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility efforts, worked with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and will continue testing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation.
The PAV prototype completed a controlled take-off, hover and landing during the flight, which tested the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems.
“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Greg Hyslop, Chief Technology Officer, Boeing. “Boeing’s expertise and innovation have been critical in developing aviation as the world’s safest and most efficient form of transportation, and we will continue to lead with a safe, innovative and responsible approach to new mobility solutions.”
Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes. This transition phase is typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.
John Langford, President and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, added: “This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy. Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible.”
The test flight represents the latest milestone for Boeing NeXt. The division works with regulatory agencies and industry partners to lead the responsible introduction of a new mobility ecosystem and ensure a future where autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. In addition to the PAV, the Boeing NeXt portfolio includes an unmanned fully electric cargo air vehicle (CAV) designed to transport up to 500 pounds (226.80 kilograms) and other urban, regional and global mobility platforms. The CAV completed its first indoor flight last year and will transition to outdoor flight testing in 2019.
“Boeing was there when the aviation industry was born and in our second century, we will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market,” said Steve Nordlund, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing NeXt. “From building air vehicles to airspace integration, we will usher in a future of safe, low-stress mobility in cities and regions around the world.”