Boeing has successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype in Manassas, Virginia.
Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility efforts, utilized 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. 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.
Greg Hyslop, chief technology officer at Boeing, said, “In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype. 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.”
Powered by an electric propulsion system, the PAV prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from take-off to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80km). Measuring 30ft long (9m) and 28ft wide (8.5m), its advanced airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.
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.”