NASA Has a New, All-Electric Airplane

Universe Today | 10/15/2019 | Staff
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Currently, commercial air travel accounts for 4 to 9% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. What’s worse, airplane emissions are on the rise thanks to rising populations and the increasingly globalized nature of our economy. Hence why NASA has been pursuing the development of electric aircraft these past few decades.

Much like reusable spacecraft and infrastructure, electric aircraft are part of NASA’s pursuit to make aerospace cheaper, more efficient and less harmful to the environment. Their efforts bore fruit in the form of the X-57 Maxwell – the first all-electric experimental aircraft – which was recently delivered to the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in Edwards, California.

X-57 - Systems - Aerospace - ESAero - Aircraft

The X-57 is manufactured by Empirical Systems Aerospace (ESAero), a California-based commercial aircraft company, and is the first crewed electric vehicle to be built in two decades. The version that was delivered on Oct. 2nd is known as the Modification II (Mod II), which is one of three configurations designed.

The Mod II is essentially a baseline P2006T aircraft, a twin-engine light passenger aircraft that is designed and built by Italian aeronautics manufacturer Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam. Converting it to all-electric systems was a simple matter of swapping out its traditional combustion engines for electric cruise motors.

Delivery - Aircraft - Milestone - Project - NASA

The delivery of this aircraft is a major milestone for the project since it means that NASA engineers can begin conducting ground tests. These will be followed by taxi tests, which will eventually lead to flight tests. As Tom Rigney – the X-57 Project Manager at the Armstrong Flight Research Center – explained in a recent NASA press release:

“The X-57 Mod II aircraft delivery to NASA is a significant event, marking the beginning of a new phase in this exciting electric X-plane project. With the aircraft in our possession, the X-57 team will soon conduct extensive...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Universe Today
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