NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, took delivery of the agency’s X-57 all-electric experimental aircraft on Wednesday. This is the first of three configurations for an all-electric aircraft, known as Mod II, according to NASA.
Its Mod II aircraft replaces the traditional piston engines on a baseline Tecnam P2006T with electric motors. NASA engineers will now begin ground testing the X-57, to be followed by taxi and, eventually, flight tests.
While the Mod II aircraft begins systems validation testing on the ground, the Mod III and IV phases are already underway, including the recent successful completion of load testing on a new, high-aspect-ratio wing at NASA Armstrong. That wing will soon be fit-checked on a fuselage at Empirical Systems Aerospace, which is performing the modifications under a NASA contract, then to be mated to the X-57.
The X-57 project will help develop certification standards for emerging electric aircraft markets, including urban air mobility vehicles. In addition, the X-57 team is using a “design driver” as a technical challenge for a 500 percent increase in high-speed cruise efficiency, zero in-flight carbon emissions, and a lower noise footprint.