Boeing’s newest passenger air vehicle (PAV) made its first flight in Manassas, VA yesterday, completing a takeoff, hover, and landing flight profile. The aircraft was designed and developed by Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility development efforts.
Boeing NeXt and subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences verified some of the vehicles autonomous functions and ground control systems during the flight on Tuesday. Watch video of the flight:
The concept for Boeing’s PAV follows their early prototype reveals, with four rotors per side of the aircraft providing lift, and a single pusher propeller providing thrust for forward flight. Currently, the aircraft has a number of ground sensors attached to the skids on each side that also serve as landing gear, but that may change in the future. Furthermore, this iteration of the PAV has seating for two passengers.
The takeoff, hover, and landing of Boeing’s PAV yesterday pave the way for envelope expansion flight testing as the handling characteristics and autonomous flight control systems are refined during further operation of the aircraft. The aircraft is 30 feet long and 28 feet wide, and has a range of 50 miles.
“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.”
“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.”
Why it’s important: Boeing’s rapid progress from prototype to first flight of its new Passenger Air Vehicle substantiate (in part) some of the claims that the additional resources of larger OEM’s in the aerospace field may help overcome hurdles that smaller companies may require more time to navigate. Now that the PAV is in flight testing, others will likely be watching to learn lessons from the interactions between Boeing and the FAA once certification flight testing is commenced.