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Tue, Dec 11, 2007

Hummingbird UAV Down Near Victorville, CA

Details On Loss Of Boeing A160 Helo Sketchy

A small Boeing unmanned helicopter crashed Monday afternoon during a test flight at the planemaker's Advanced Systems test facility in Victorville, CA, burning about 1,600 square feet of ground but causing no injuries.

The A160 Hummingbird impacted terrain in the desert at 1408 local time Monday. Staffers at the control tower at Southern California Logistics Airport reported the accident to the FAA.

"Boeing was flying an unmanned helicopter ... and it crashed 2.7 miles north of the Victorville airport," said FAA Western Region Spokesman Ian Gregor. Victorville spokeswoman Yvonne Hester confirmed it was an A160.

Details of the accident, including anything pointing to a probable cause, remain unreported.

Initially developed by Frontier Systems, Inc. -- subsequently bought out by Boeing -- under a DARPA contract, the A160 is an unmanned helicopter designed to fly 2,500 nautical miles with endurance in excess of 24 hours. The autonomously-flown helicopter is 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter and will fly at an estimated top speed of 140 knots, and at ceilings of up to 30,000 feet.

Boeing added a larger, six-cylinder Subaru engine to the aircraft, allowing the Hummingbird to carry over 1,000 lbs payload. As ANN reported, the company's Phantom Works division successfully completed a 12-hour test flight of the Hummingbird on October 12, the longest reported flight to date.

When it enters operational service, the A160 will provide reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, communication relay and precision re-supply.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.faa.gov

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