Watch Boeing’s Electric Aircraft Complete First Test Flight

JAN 26 2019 BY WADE MALONE 43

Boeing launches a prototype aircraft designed for flying taxi services.

This week, Boeing’s prototype passenger air vehicle (PAV) took to the skies for the very first time. This successful flight is an important step for the company’s future in electric aircraft development. The company plans for the unnamed aircraft to be fully autonomous and have an range of up to 50 miles.

This prototype was developed as part of Boeing’s NeXt program, a division focused on new mobility ventures, along with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Services. The PAV was specifically designed for Uber Air. Uber hopes to launch an autonomous flying taxi service as soon as 2023.

The aircraft went from conceptual design to flying prototype in a fairly short time. According to Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop:

In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype. 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 first test showcased the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems. Future test flights will focus on forward flight and the transition between vertical and forward-flight movement.

Like autonomous cars, Uber and Boeing will face difficulties with local and federal regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) delayed rules on small, private drones for years. In addition, congress still has not passed laws on autonomous vehicle testing. It seems likely that government laws and regulations for large, autonomous flying vehicles are years away.

However, progress is being made. Because of these potential road blocks, Boeing NeXt is already working with regulatory agencies and other industry players to develop rules in preparation for future air taxi services.

Source: Teslarati

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43 Comments on "Watch Boeing’s Electric Aircraft Complete First Test Flight"

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Boeing bought Aurora, this is their design.

What a load of horse crap. Concepts to whoo investors. Concepts waiting for way better batteries and way friendlier regulatory environments. Just curious, did Boeing stock go up, or down today?

Because Boeing is so desperate for robo-plane investors when it’s the hegemon of the global airline industry and Pentagon aerospace, having wrecked or bought out most of its competitors.

It’s not about “robo-plane investors”. It’s about trying to appear cutting edge in the aerospace sector. It’s about making it look like they are on it with all the latest trends and concepts. And in this case, also raking in some excess Uber cash.

If anybody thinks this contraption is going to land in front of their house and then whisk them away for fine night out in the city in the year 2023, they are either delusional, or high on their own space crack. Whatever happened to the Amazon delivery drones… ? Hmmmm…

Actually, in the commercial arena (about 70%+ of its business) it is half of a duopoly with airbus. Military it shares with other large US aerospace firms and has maybe 25% of the total.

The news here is “They are working on an electric aircraft.” Nothing more than a small first step.

Another Euro point of view

Did someone told them they forgot to remove the two beams underneath ?

The beams are the aircraft with the electric motors and propellors, the plane fuselage is the load.

… which makes absolutely no sense.

I will take the word of Boeing engineers over…..what are you?

Amazing, the amount of freelancing experts, sharing their wisdom for free with all of us, eh?

If the plane fuselage is just cargo, then where is the power source for those rotors?

No, I think the entire thing is the aircraft. The rotors appear to be powered by a power source inside the fuselage.

Watching with the sound off, at first I thought I was looking at the plane being airlifted by cables and a heavy-lift helicopter out of picture frame. It was only a second time thru that I realized the beams underneath were actually part of the aircraft!

Not exactly an aerodynamic design. I presume this is an early prototype?

A big drone. So? What’s the big deal? Smaller companies did a lot more. This is PR.

The big deal is someone like Boeing working through the regulations to actually get something like this in the air. It’s like the EV tax credit it was GM pushing it using their lobbying power.

And there are few corporate lobbies more powerful than the aerospace companies that cause all those warplane boondoggles that have gone on all our lives. At least it’s using its power for good for once – asking for permission to use private money instead of demanding the misuse of our public money.

Big drones aren’t easy. Squared-cubed is in play.

Wow, I’m impressed, in 1 year maybe they can do like my drone – it goes forward and backwards… and one more year maybe even sideways!
Silly news, silly video…

I expected better from Boeing, – of course when decades ago the DC-9 started dropping their engines, people made the gag that is how they got their name – BOING!

DC-9 not made by Boeing

no one will use an unmanned flying taxi. too dangerous, and expensive. besides ever hear of a helicopter. pure fantasy. never can be practical

Yeah, and if man were meant to fly he’d have wings…

Would it be nice if Boeing were given all the federal contracts for sustainable travel solutions instead of weapons?

Sooo the future of flight is… A big drone?

Personalizing computers, personalizing movie-watching, personalizing energy production. We don’t want the big central facilities if we can bring it closer to home.

Flying the friendly skies is going to soon be for EVeryone.

Warning to all of the existing Pigeon populations in the downtown metro urban areas, being served by flying Uber Taxis, GTFO now, before TSH the Fan, literally.

It isn’t your drone. It has wings. The “drone” it is mounted on replaces the landing gear, and allows vertical takeoff, transitioning quickly to horizontal flight. It is a preposterous design, but so are all VTOL aircraft. The hideous Osprey has been around for most of my adult life, and is still a mess.

But the Osprey are pretty awesome to watch. A few years ago Obama left the Burbank airport in Marine 1 flanked by 3 or 4 Osprey and flew right over a place I was having lunch. Cool to see and such an unusual sound as they transition from vertical to horizontal flight mode.

Being a drone has absolutely nothing to do with having wings or not.

Funny how “drone” nowadays is used as a synonym for quadcopters (or hexacopters, octocopters etc.), although military air drones (with wings) have been around for a lot longer.

What’s with the obsession with cheese-ball track music played over videos like these?? One of the great attractions to electric vehicles/machines is the LACK of sound, we rarely get to hear what the vehicles sound like due to the lame music.

Very funny. Have you ever been near a quadcopter or similar flying? These things LOUD.

I thought the airplane will separate with the bottom after lift off. If it’s always attached, why do they need the wings?

Wings significantly reduce energy consumption when cruising at speed.

(Probably still pretty bad with this contraption, though…)

It seems to be an early prototype, with rotors mounted on a frame attached to an existing aircraft. I presume the idea is further development allowing it to switch to horizontal flight, but those heavy structural beams at the bottom make it look pretty far from a proper aerodynamic design!

I’m a Airline Transport Pilot, I would not get in this thing until years of testing has been completed and shown to be safer than the aircraft that are built to todays standards. That is a tall order to fill, it will take years if not a decade to pass regulatory standards.

These things actually would have to be inherently *much more* safe to be feasible at all, since requiring the same amount of inspections as regular aircraft to make the safe would make costs prohibitive.

Rather than if this technology will work, which I m sure it will in the not too distant future, the question should be whether our urban societies will be accepting of this type of vehicle?
2 issues:
Where will it take off and land? This vehicle is way bigger than a car.
How noisy will it be. As we transition to electric ground vehicles the urban environment has the potential to become quieter, then this comes along

The tech exists now – except for the battery. It’s just a big drone; drones are perfectly capable of safely flying themselves from one place to another. Create a segregated airspace for them that is controlled via network that coordinates flight paths, and it’s done. This would all be much, much, MUCH easier than trying to build a Level 5 autonomous car. “Where would it take off and land?” Anywhere helicopters currently take of and land, which is to say, at heliports, airports, helipads, etc. Further, these could use much smaller LZs, because they are smaller and their rotors are smaller. “How noisy will they be?” A lot quieter than helicopters, as long as they’re electric-powered. Even if they’re gas-powered, they’d still be much quieter than traditional helicopters, because the rotors are smaller. There will never come a time where an average, middle class person will get in their personal drone and fly to work, but for the wealthy, this will be a much more attainable, efficient means of traveling long distances; no longer will you need eight figures in the bank to regularly gain access to the benefits of helicopter flight – seven will be plenty for an occasional… Read more »

“There will never come a time where an average, middle class person will get in their personal drone and fly to work…”

Hmm, “never” is a long time. Even pioneering aviators can be wrong about the future of aircraft. My Google-fu has failed to find the quote, but as I recall, one of the Wright Bros. said that flying would never be more than a rich man’s hobby.

If you look closely, this contraption makes no design sense. The test bed was fans on two rails. Nothing wrong with that. Then some wingnut (in management?) decided it needed a cool looking airplane-like body … that serves no purpose.

The combination makes no sense.

Interesting – so where did you get your doctorate in aeronautical engineering?

So I guess that’s a, “No” on the PhD?

The “airplane-like body” may serve the very practical purpose of (a) providing a power source for the rotors, and (b) containing the flight instruments needed for proper control.

And perhaps also serving other purposes. Perhaps the intent is to eventually try it with human passengers, or at least crash-test dummies. So a cabin might eventually prove useful.

I’ll admit I can’t figure out why they left wings on the thing.