The American airplane manufacturer Boeing announced the successful completed first flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype. This first test flight, realized in Manassas, Virginia, USA, demonstrates the company’s urban air mobility efforts. With the support of Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing NeXt, responsible for urban air mobility, designs and develops the electric aircraft which is able to autonomously take off and land (eVTOL) vertical. Further tests will be conducted in the next time in order to improve safety and reliability.
BREAKING: It’s another first for us. Along with @AuroraFlightSci we’ve successfully tested our passenger air vehicle. We continue our progress towards a safe and sustainable urban mobility ecosystem. #TheFutureIsBuiltHere pic.twitter.com/hwuw4d5jmz
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) 23 January 2019
“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.”
This flight project is still at the beginning. During the first test flight on 22 Jan 2019, the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems were tested during takeoff, hover and landing. The most challenging flight phase of the high-speed VTOL aircraft, the transition between vertical and forward-flight, has not been tested yet. This challenging task is planned for future flight tests.
“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” said John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Flight Sciences. “Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible.”
Driven by an electric propulsion system, this oversized drone is planned to completely fly autonomously. It is able to fly about 80 kilometers (50 miles).