Boeing has successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle prototype in Manassas, Virginia.
Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility efforts, utilised Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft and will continue testing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation.
The 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.
“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing chief technology officer, Greg Hyslop.
“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 prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from take-off to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles.
Measuring 30 feet long and 28 feet wide, its advanced airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.