News

Proteus, A High-Altitude, Multi-Mission Aircraft


MOJAVE, CA (September 23, 1998) -This morning Aerospace Officials from Industry and Government witnessed the unveiling of a new, special-purpose aircraft in a dramatic flight demonstration at the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center. Proteus* is the latest project from Scaled Composites, the prolific California desert based aerospace research company that has developed over 30 original aircraft types. This inaugural event allowed Scaled to demonstrate the unique performance and flight characteristics of the Proteus, and gave attendees a chance to view the airplane up close for the first time.

The Proteus designed with long wings and a low wing loading needed for efficient high altitude loiter, showed grace, stability, and low noise during its demonstration. The flight also included dynamic maneuvers showing the aircraft’s agility, needed to operate in adverse conditions. The crisp, short takeoff and landing illustrated the unique “three-mains” landing gear design intended to increase crosswind and wet runway capability without the use of spoilers. Also displayed was the Proteus graphite composite cabin test component. This structure, which incorporates several new design concepts, had recently been tested to 3.5 times the required operating cabin pressure.

Since the 1.7-hour first flight of Proteus on 26 July, the aircraft has been flown twelve flights, for a total flight time of 18 hours. During this time, Proteus has flown as high as 36,000 feet and demonstrated speeds from stall speed, as low as 65 knots (75 mph), to 250 Knots (288 mph). Takeoff weights up to 9000 pounds have been demonstrated, and the maneuvering envelope has been opened to 2.5 g. Cabin pressurization system tests are now in work, which will allow pressurized flights to begin soon. This will allow expansion of the altitude envelope while providing for the crew’s safety.

Proteus is a twin turbofan high altitude multi mission aircraft powered by Williams International FJ44-2E engines. It is designed to carry payloads in the 2000-pound class to altitudes above 60,000 feet and remain on station up to 14 hours. Heavier payloads can be carried for shorter missions. It is intended for piloted as well as for UAV missions. Potential missions for Proteus include telecommunications, reconnaissance, atmospheric research, commercial imaging, and space launch.

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