Boeing Phantom Eye unmanned spy plane stays aloft four days, sort of bums us out

Joseph L. Flatley
J. Flatley|07.13.10

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Sometimes, in the seat of our despair (which almost always corresponds with a viewing of The Real Housewives of New Jersey), we reflect on the sorry state of the world and note that the one thing we don't have to doubt is that history is marching us towards a mechanized slaughter that will make World War I look like Burning Man (the rave, not the actual burning people). Sure, it never occurred to anyone to maybe figure out how to cap an undersea oil well, but at least we are making headway in our development of autonomous, long range aircraft (you know, for shooting people and eavesdropping and whatnot). Our latest example of a world gone mad comes courtesy of Boeing, and it's called Phantom Eye. The unmanned aircraft system looks something like a bowling pin with wings and can spend up to four days at 65,000 feet. Also featured on the craft is a hydrogen propulsion system that promises great fuel economy, and whose only byproduct is water. At the unveiling ceremony in St. Louis, Boeing Phantom Works president Darryl Davis noted that the "capabilities inherent" in its design "will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers." Awesome! Look for the device later this summer, when it begins a series of ground and taxi tests in preparation for its first flight early next year.
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Boeing Unveils Unmanned Phantom Eye Demonstrator

ST. LOUIS, July 12, 2010 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days.

"Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications," Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said today at the unveiling ceremony in St. Louis. "It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The capabilities inherent in Phantom Eye's design will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers."

Later this summer, Phantom Eye will be shipped to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to begin a series of ground and taxi tests in preparation for its first flight in early 2011. That debut flight is expected to last between four and eight hours.

"The program is moving quickly, and it's exciting to be part of such a unique aircraft," said Drew Mallow, Phantom Eye program manager for Boeing. "The hydrogen propulsion system will be the key to Phantom Eye's success. It is very efficient and offers great fuel economy, and its only byproduct is water, so it's also a 'green' aircraft."

Phantom Eye is powered by two 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engines that provide 150 horsepower each. It has a 150-foot wingspan, will cruise at approximately 150 knots and can carry up to a 450-pound payload.

Key Phantom Eye suppliers and partners include Ford Motor Company (engines); Aurora Flight Sciences (wing); Mahle Powertrain (propulsion controls); Ball Aerospace (fuel tanks); Turbosolutions Engineering (turbochargers); the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and NASA.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

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Chris Haddox
Boeing Phantom Works
Office: 314-234-6447
Mobile: 314-707-8891

Deborah VanNierop
Boeing Phantom Works
Mobile: 210-454-2656
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