From Aviation Week and Space Technology 2008 March
Boeing is poised to attempt a brace of world record endurance flights with its A160T Hummingbird unmanned air vehicle after installing new safeguards to prevent a flight control system failure which led to the loss of a prototype last December.
The accident put a three-month hold on an already aggressive test and demonstration schedule earmarked for the A160T through the rest of 2008. Yet Boeing remains confident it can meet its schedules, as well as set records for rotary UAV payload and endurance that it claims others will find difficult to match.
The record attempt flights will include a hover out of ground effect at 15,000 ft. and an 18-20-hr. flight with a 300.-lb payload. Together they form the final milestones of the Phase 1 demonstration which began in August 2003. Supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the tests are intended to prove that a purpose-built, clean-sheet large vertical takeoff and landing unmanned air system (VUAS) can truly go the distance compared to other rotary UAVs that are generally derived from existing manned helicopters.
"We think we've got something different here," says Boeing Advanced Systems' business development director, Grady Eakin. "The range, endurance and payload are unique for a rotary-wing UAV, and we think it can provide a variety of missions all at the same time. We've proved we can get there quickly, stay a long time and fly to places that commanders think are important," he adds.
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