Hummingbird sings for Boeing

Boeing has successfully completed the first flight of the A160T Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft from an airfield near Victorville, California.

The turbine-powered A160T, based on the piston-powered A160 helicopter, conducted a hover flight lasting 12 minutes, during which it met all test objectives and collected data about its flight control, propulsion and subsystem operation.

The autonomous unmanned aircraft, which is 10.7m long with an 11m rotor diameter, will eventually fly at a speed of 140 knots (259kmph) with a ceiling of 7,620m to 9,144m, for up to 20 hours.

According to Boeing, the Hummingbird has an improved level of efficiency due to features such as an optimum speed rotor technology that adjusts the rotor system’s revolutions per minute at different altitudes, gross weights, and cruise speeds.

When in operation, A160Ts will be used for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaisance, target acquisition, communication transmission and re-supply missions.

The aircraft used during the tests is the first of 10 A160Ts Boeing Advanced Systems is building for the US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency and the US Special Operations Command.