Earlier this year Boeing announced their subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences is working to develop an autonomous plane. Earlier this week a spokeswoman for the project confirmed that the first prototype had crashed during it’s fifth test flight in Manassas, Virginia. Luisa Guerra confirmed to media outlets yesterday at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, DC that the aircraft had gone down during the flight and that the incident is currently under investigation and that it currently unknown what caused the crash at the company’s Virginia facility.
Guerra also noted in her statement that the aircraft had 4 successful flights and that the incident occurred in a closed area. “we are operating in a safe, confined space. We follow strict protocols during flight testing” she said.
Aurora declined to disclose any further details of the crash. The 30 foot long electric aircraft completed it’s first flight back in January of this year when the prototype completed a controlled take-off, hover and landing. Later flights have focused on forward, wing-borne flight as well as transitioning into a landing configuration. A video of the PAV’s first flight can be found on Aurora’s YouTube channel here.
Boeing and Aurora are hoping to be the first to break into the air-taxi and the consumer autonomous flight market with their autonomous passenger air vehicle and looks for clients to be companies like Uber and Lyft who currently focus on a ride-sharing business model.
Aurora Flight Sciences claims to be a leader in the development and manufacturing of advance unmanned systems and aerospace vehicles. They currently have several other projects including solar powered aircraft, an autonomous helicopter program and an optionally piloted aircraft program which is currently being tested in a modified Diamond DA-68.
We will post an update as soon as the cause of the crash is released.