Boeing Unveils Phantom Eye Hydrogen-Powered Unmanned Airborne System; Powered by Ford HICE Engines

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Unveiling of the Phantom Eye. One of the hydrogen engine assemblies is placed off to the right. Source: Boeing. Click to enlarge.

The Boeing Company unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days, with ten planned for a future larger version. (Earlier post.) The Phantom Eye is propelled by two 2.3-liter, four-cylinder Ford hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines (HICE).

The engines deliver 150 hp (112 kW) each. Phantom Eye has a 150-foot wingspan, will cruise at approximately 150 knots and can carry up to a 450-pound payload.

Later this summer, Phantom Eye will be shipped to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to begin a series of ground and taxi tests in preparation for its first flight in early 2011. That debut flight is expected to last between four and eight hours.

Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications. It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

—Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works

Key Phantom Eye suppliers and partners include Ford Motor Company (engines); Aurora Flight Sciences (wing); Mahle Powertrain (propulsion controls); Ball Aerospace (fuel tanks); Turbosolutions Engineering (turbochargers); the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and NASA.


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