This is an update to a post back in June, which can be found here.
Oct 25/10: AeroVironment, Inc. announces that the 1st Global Observer JDCTD aircraft successfully completed initial battery-powered flight testing at Edwards AFB, CA in August and September 2010. That included multiple low-altitude flights to test guidance, manual and autonomous controls, navigation, structural performance, thrust levels and handling in various winds and turbulence conditions.
With respect to next steps, AeroVironment has successfully operated Global Observer’s hydrogen-fueled generator for more than 1,500 hours in a specialized environmental testing chamber, including an uninterrupted 7-day mission cycle. That equipment has now been installed in the aircraft, and will be used during upcoming stratospheric, extreme endurance flights during the joint operational utility assessment phase of the program.
Aug 11/10: AeroVironment, Inc. announces that a full size 175 foot Global Observer wing has successfully completed a series of Wing Load Tests at the Flight Loads Lab in NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards AFB, CA. The goal is to make sure that the design can handle the expected stresses from turbulent air and aircraft maneuvers, as well as create a baseline for future flight test data. Chairman and CEO Tim Conver:
“With ground and wing load testing behind us we look forward to demonstrating Global Observer’s unique ability to fly longer and higher over any location than any other aircraft. That ability can translate into more valuable reconnaissance and communications at a lower cost to military and non-military customers.”
Aug 5/10: First flight. Global Observer Aircraft 1001 (a.k.a. GO-1) takes off from runway 04L at Edwards AFB, CA and climbs to an altitude of 4,000 feet. AeroVironment’s chief test pilot, USAF Lt. Col. Andy Thurling (ret.), operates the aircraft remotely from the portable Launch and Recovery Element (LRE), performing a series of pre-planned maneuvers under battery power before landing successfully one hour later.
The hybrid-electric aircraft will ultimately carry a liquid hydrogen-fueled propulsion system to power it through high altitude, long endurance joint operational utility assessment planned for later in 2010. Aerovironment.