Aircraft

Boeing VTOL air vehicle prototype makes first flight

Boeing VTOL air vehicle protot...
The PAV utilizes four sets of rotors for vertical takeoffs and landings, along with a rear propeller for forward flight
The PAV utilizes four sets of rotors for vertical takeoffs and landings, along with a rear propeller for forward flight
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The PAV utilizes four sets of rotors for vertical takeoffs and landings, along with a rear propeller for forward flight
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The PAV utilizes four sets of rotors for vertical takeoffs and landings, along with a rear propeller for forward flight

Given how many groups are now developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, it shouldn't come as a surprise that aerospace giant Boeing has been working on some of its own. This Tuesday, one of the prototypes made its first flight.

Known for now simply as the passenger air vehicle (PAV), the aircraft is part of the company's Boeing NeXt urban air mobility project. It's designed to fly autonomously, performing helicopter-like vertical takeoffs and landings, but switching over to faster and more efficient fixed-wing flight while en route.

It measures 30 feet long by 28 feet wide (9.1 by 8.5 m), and has a claimed battery range of up to 50 miles (80.5 km). Among other things, Boeing NeXt is also developing an electric cargo air vehicle (CAV), which can carry a payload of up to 500 lb (227 kg) – it made its first indoor test flight last year, with its outdoor testing scheduled to begin sometime this year.

OUR FIRST FLIGHT: Boeing’s Passenger Air Vehicle

This week's PAV flight was a test of the aircraft's autonomous functions and ground control systems, in which it successfully took off, hovered in place, and then landed. It was not carrying any passengers at the time. Subsequent flights are planned to evaluate its fixed-wing flight capabilities, along with its ability to smoothly transition between vertical and forward flight.

Source: Boeing

14 comments
guzmanchinky
Why in the world put props where they can injure people? One of the best parts of a ducted fan design with the props up high is the elimination of the dangerous tail rotor...
Daishi
Boeing likely sees the investor money thrown at all these VTOL startups and is under pressure to do it too. Not all prototypes prove you are on the right path. Some of them just demonstrate you are not.
minivini
I’m extremely disappointed that Opener’s Blackfly hasn’t really done any press outreach in about 6 months. That particular design really amazes me kore than most other vtol aircraft (electric or traditional) I’ve seen to date.
Towerman
@guzmanchinky "Why in the world put props where they can injure people?" Because thats how it's been done since the dawn of aviation, every prop aircraft in existence have a propeller that can injure people, and people learned to understand to simply not be near it when it's active. I do like the Airbus air taxi/caryall concept complete with electric (pod) vehicle that are dropped of at your destination, it looks very sleek too.
F. Tuijn
@guzmanchinky I agree with you. Besides this position is also aerodynamically wrong, less efficient than when they are mounted higher.
Chaostheory
Looks like a Vari Easy with a couple extra props.
jerryd
I've seen so many silly versions even like this by big aerospace firms that should know better. For 50 mile range 2 simple counter rotating rotors without collective, etc controlled gyrocopter style is far more efficient, carry a bigger load at 40% of the cost of this fiasco.
Vanilla Cat
To Minivini Most of these revolutionary craft that we all want in our garage will in all probability never materialize. A year and a half ago I paid $100 to be on an advanced availability list for the Kittyhawk Flyer after their grand debut video in the Summer of '17. Over a year later they had dramatically redesigned the craft so that it was completely unrecognizable to the prototype, and I never received any info or even pricing information. Initially the craft was slated to be available in 2018! To their credit however they did refund my $ after I complained.
Steven Livingston
I've always been puzzled about something: Why hasn't any manufacturer taken advantage of aspects of both turbines and electric motors. Seems like you accomplish the goal of burning far less fuel to be airborne by using a small turbine to charge batteries as needed, and putting lightweight electric motors wherever they need to be mounted to increase their efficiency. Run the fuel engine long enough to top off the batts, shut down when not needed, and restart when a certain charging threshold is reached. Make it a plug-in hybrid. What am I missing?
Daishi
@Steven Livingston I believe some teams are using fuel powered generators to power electric motors rather than batteries. Batteries are much lower energy density than fuel so they are a huge problem for flight application. VTOL's are less efficient than cars and fixed win aircraft so it is an application where energy density is critical. Without a massive breakthrough in battery technology every team doing this is sitting at the same fundamental dead end. They are doing the R&D in case that breakthrough happens but there is very high probability electric VTOL's never get off the ground.