Hydrogen-fueled propulsive system takes wing

Sep 26, 2011 No Comments by

The AeroVironment (AV) Global Observer unmanned air vehicle has flown successfully at Edwards Air Force Base in California. This is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system that is touted by AV “to combine the best attributes of satellites and both manned and unmanned aircraft.”

Its revolutionary liquid hydrogen-fueled
propulsive system, an LH2 internal combustion powerplant driving four high-efficiency electric motors with propellers, will allow the AV Global Observer to operate in the stratosphere over 12 miles (63,360 feet) high for five to seven days at a time, while loitering over areas of observation some 600 miles (965.6 kilometers) in diameter.

It is a large air vehicle with a length of 70 feet (21.3 meters), a wingspan of 175 feet (53.3m), and it can carry payloads of up to 400 pounds (kilograms). According to AV, it features a very light, durable airframe, and it will operate from conventional 150 feet (45.7m) wide by 6,000 feet (1,828.8m) long paved runways with 4,200-foot (1,280.1m) takeoff and landing distances.

This milestone marks the beginning of high-altitude, long-endurance flight testing for the demonstration and operational utility phase of this Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program. Two Global Observer aircraft, each flying for up to a week at a time, could alternate coverage over any area on the earth, providing a seamless, persistent platform for high-value missions such as communications relay, remote sensing, long-term surveillance and border patrol, officials said.—Steve Pace

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