Boeing's experimental hydrogen-fueled 'Phantom Eye' high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft flew for the second time on Monday.
It first flew on June 1st last year, which resulted in minor damage to the landing gear as it dug into the dry lake bed surface at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Since then, the landing gear's been redesigned.
The aircraft is powered by two modified 2.3-liter engines originally designed for the Ford Fusion motor car, fueled by hydrogen contained (in liquid form) in two circular tanks within the fuselage (hence the plane's whale-like girth). It's intended to cruise at altitudes up to 65,000 feet for more than four days, carrying a payload of up to 450 pounds at speeds of up to 150 knots.
Here's a video report on the Phantom Eye's second flight.
Fat-looking thing, isn't it? - but if this prototype proves successful, Boeing's considering a larger version that can remain airborne for more than 10 days, lifting a payload of over 2,000 pounds. That might be very interesting to a lot of customers.