Over a two-way radio, Boeing NeXt flight-test lead Emily Schnieders ran through a detailed flight plan for the cargo air vehicle: “This is going to be a launch and then we will accelerate to 20 knots parallel to the runway.”
As the batteries powered on and the propellers started to spin, the flight-test team initiated the final safety checks before takeoff. Inside the flight control center, engineers were tracking the rotation of the propellers, engine power and battery temperatures. They also monitored the air space and wind conditions.
Once the flight and safety checklist was complete, Schnieders gave the all clear: “Launch A.V.”
During the three-minute flight, the cargo air vehicle took off, hovered and then flew several thousand feet down the runway before safely landing. It successfully completed the pre-programmed flight plan.
Since the first outdoor flight earlier this year, the flight-test team has advanced the vehicle, known as the CAV, through a comprehensive test program in a safe and controlled environment. The team has completed more than 90 outdoor flight tests. Many of them forward flight.
“Safety drives our research. Flight testing is where we are learning and implementing changes to improve the CAV,” said Troy Rutherford, Boeing NeXt CAV program manager. “This team is setting the foundation for future mobility.”
To ensure safe flight operations, the CAV always flies within designated airspace and it is equipped with automated safety features that can command it to land. In the coming months, the test team will continue to focus on forward flight, load analysis and performance.
“Our team has the knowledge base and experience to ensure we can fly repeatedly, reliably and safely,” Schnieders said
The CAV will open new markets by offering efficiencies in delivering time-sensitive and high-value goods for cargo and logistics applications. The electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicle is designed to carry a payload up to 500 pounds. It is being developed by Boeing NeXt.