Boeing has successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype in Manassas, Virginia. Boeing’s ‘NeXt’ urban air mobility division and Aurora Flight Sciences designed and developed the the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
The PAV prototype completed a controlled takeoff, hover and landing during the flight, testing the eVTOL’s autonomous capabilities and ground control systems. Moving forward, Boeing will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as vertical to forward-flight transitions which is the most significant when engineering a high-speed VTOL aircraft.
“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.”
The PAV prototype is able to operate completely autonomously, from takeoff to landing, and has a range of 50 miles.
“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” said John Langford, President and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences. “Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible.”
Boeing will also introduce an unmanned electric cargo air vehicle, which is able to transport up to 500 pounds of freight, which completed its first indoor flight last year.
This is great news for VTOL development, which is the next major step forward in future mobility.