Phantom Eye Flies, Breaks a Leg

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Boeing’s Phantom Eye, hydrogen-powered HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) surveillance aircraft rose from its launch cart at 6:22 a.m. Pacific time on June 1, then climbed to an altitude of 4,080 feet on its 28 minute maiden flight. Phantom Eye is meant to be an autonomous craft with four-day mission capabilities.  The bulbous front fuselage houses two spherical hydrogen tanks that feed the Ford 2.3 liter engines on the 150-foot, high-aspect ratio wings.  The engines, triple turbocharged at altitude, emit only water vapor, making spying a little cleaner. Note the web-like spinning of carbon fiber strands making up the fuselage.  This highly-automated manufacturing process probably emulates that used on the company’s 787 Dreamliner and reflects the high-technology methods we can …

It’s a Race – It’s an Economy Run

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Stemme, the German manufacturer of a series of highly innovative sailplanes, motorgliders and even unmanned aerial vehicles, has announced the first Green Speed Cup, which will  take place between August 7 and 13, 2011, starting from Stausberg Airfield every day. Combining a race with an economy run, the six-day event will help illuminate the strategies different teams will use to fly “as fast as possible while minimizing the consumption of fossil fuel energy,” according to the GSC’s organizers.  Explaining that the Cup is a “a direct comparison of technologies, machines, materials and the capabilities of the pilots,” taking into account how pilots can exploit thermals and winds, Stemme expects that the competition should “practical solutions for saving energy during powered …

Boeing SolarEagle – The Five-Year Flyer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Whether ferreting out insurgents in Afghanistan or monitoring agricultural trends in America, the ability to stay overhead and continue in a mission is of great importance for an aircraft providing aerial intelligence. Our recent stories about 200-foot span, hybrid electric HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft being tested at NASA Dryden Test Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base showed a pair of large aircraft with the ability to stay up for a week, a persistence of overhead vision that is astonishing.  Now Boeing has announced a bigger, wildly more persistent vehicle, the SolarEagle, 435 feet in span, capable of floating around at 60,000 feet on solar/electric power for five years.  The 6,000 pound airframe can carry a payload of …

Hail HALE: Boeing’s “Flying Bowling Pin”

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

On July 12, at its St. Louis, Missouri plant, Boeing rolled out its Phantom Eye high altitude long endurance (HALE) aircraft.  Various members of the press and several bloggers took an opportunity to pelt the new plane with sobriquets such as, “flying bowling pin,” or “fat kid,”  failing to understand the aerodynamic advantages of the laminar flow fuselage.  A quick study of CAFE Foundation references would correct these reporters’ initial impressions. Notwithstanding the apparently controversial aesthetics of the 150-foot span craft, the exciting news for green aviation enthusiasts is its power system – a pair of 15o-horsepower, 2.3 liter Ford Duratec engines, turbocharged and fueled by a “breakthrough” liquid hydrogen system.  The long wings, drooping in the press photos, will …