Boeing has started production of the first A160T Hummingbird being built at its Mesa site near Falcon Field.
In March, Boeing added the A160T to its Mesa products, and on Thursday, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith got a tour of the production site.
“This is fantastic news for our community and the region,” Smith said in a news release. “Boeing is a key player in the thriving aerospace industry in the East Valley. The addition of the Hummingbird project is another indication of the strength of that industry.”
Boeing is funding the first five of the Hummingbirds being built in Mesa. Development of the A160T Hummingbird began more than five years ago. The vehicle set an unofficial world endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle in 2008 flying for 18.7 hours.
It is being built by Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security division. Customers include the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and U.S. Naval Air Systems Command.
”The A160T can deliver unmatched capabilities to the war fighter,” Boeing Mesa Site Lead Tony Ham said. “And we’re proud that in Mesa, we’re applying our leadership in rotorcraft manufacturing to bringing this great aircraft into production.”
The autonomous unmanned aircraft measures 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter. It will eventually fly more than 170 knots with a ceiling of 20,000 to 30,000 for more than 20 hours. It can hover at altitudes of 15,000 and 20,000 feet.
Between 30 and 40 employees are working on the project. Production on the second Hummingbird at the Mesa site should begin next week. The first A160T is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.