Using rapid prototyping, the Boeing Phantom Works engineers in Philadelphia designed and built a flying subscale model of the innovative Phantom Swift in less than 30 days to be part of Boeing’s proposal for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) vertical takeoff and landing X-Plane competition.
Designing an aircraft to perform a vertical takeoff, while maintaining adequate low-speed control, is challenging. Sustaining efficient hover is also difficult, and adding a high cruising speed is even more challenging.
Phantom Swift features two large lift fans – inside the fuselage – that provide efficient vertical lift. Once the aircraft transitions to cruise mode, the fans are covered. It also features smaller ducted fans on the wingtips that provide forward thrust, and provide additional lift and control in hover.
Boeing’s Phantom Swift concept combines two lift fans in the main body of the aircraft for vertical lift with two wingtip thrusters for forward propulsion.
“The vehicle that we’re designing today is a 12,000-pound, about 44-foot nose-to-tail, 50-foot wingtip-to-wingtip unmanned aircraft.The demonstrator would be powered by twin General Electric CT7-8 turboshaft engines, with the aim of moving to electric propulsion in the future.