Get a load of this!

As Boeing tests the advanced technology behind its Cargo Air Vehicle, teams across the company are gearing up to change how the world transports payloads and goods.

As the sun comes up over an airfield, doors to a hangar open wide as Boeing employees prepare the Cargo Air Vehicle for flight testing.

Before long, 12 rotors begin spinning in unison, creating a buzz that echoes across the secluded landscape.

The unmanned aircraft lifts into the sky and typically flies no farther than a mile, no higher than 400 feet (120 meters) and no longer than three minutes during testing. It’s designed to carry up to 500 pounds (225 kilograms) of cargo.

The location enables the Boeing team to work without interruptions while developing the CAV — advanced technology geared to change the way the world transports payloads and goods over shorter distances, among myriad uses under consideration.

It’s really nice to be involved in something like this because it’s a big shift from the way we’ve been looking at air travel evolve. It’s not easy. Boeing is at the forefront.

—Chad Kelly, CAV test conductor

Learn more about Chad.

Cargo Air Vehicle flight test engineer

What makes this eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle so different is its huge size — it measures 20 feet (6 meters) wide and weighs more than 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms).

Electrical systems, rotors and all sorts of material properties become less robust as urban air mobility vehicles grow larger in scale and vibration increases. Not CAV. It uses a mature design culled from different groups across Boeing to thrive in its expanded form.

Though no one was aboard the CST-100 Starliner, unless you count Rosie the Rocketeer, an anthropomorphic research doll and her co-pilot Snoopy…

Engineers and technicians, up to 30 people at a time, launched eight CAV vehicles through 150 flight tests over the latter half of 2019. Depending on the weather, the aircraft flew up to seven times a day.

A ground control station near the test site monitors the CAV, which continues to prove and expand its capabilities throughout ongoing testing.

One of the reasons I love my job is you can see the impact your work is going to have on the future. Not only on Boeing but on society as a whole.

—Emily Schnieders, Boeing NeXt cross-program integrator

Learn more about Emily.

Emily Schnieders, NeXt cross-program integrator

As Boeing continues to test and develop the CAV, people from across the enterprise come together to solve the technical challenges and present design changes. The work is always complicated but never boring. Those who have seen it in flight have been left in awe.

The CAV resembles something that belongs to another world, but all signs point to it influencing this one soon.

Story by

Dan Raley

Photos by

Bob Ferguson and Fred Troilo

Videos by

Ed Muir and Boeing

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