Boeing completes first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle prototype

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On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Boeing successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype in Manassas, Virginia.

During the flight, the PAV prototype, which is 30-feet long and 28-feet wide, completed a controlled takeoff, hover and landing, which tested its autonomous functions and ground control systems.

Boeing says that future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes—a phase that is usually the most important engineering challenge for any high-speed vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, according to Boeing.

“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” says 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.”

The leader of Boeing’s urban air mobility efforts, Boeing NeXt, utilized Aurora Flight Sciences for the design and development of the electric VTOL (eVTOL) aircraft. The vehicle will continue to be tested to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation.

“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,” comments 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.”

The PAV prototype is powered by an electric propulsion system, and is designed for fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing. Boasting a range of up to 50 miles, the PAV prototype features an advanced airframe that integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.