NASA To Install Batteries in e-Aircraft Demonstrator

 - April 25, 2022, 11:35 AM
NASA's X-57 electric aircraft demonstrator is nearing the end of ground tests and is now being prepared for the installation of batteries. The space agency expects to fly the modified Tecnam P200\6T later this year. (Photo: NASA)

NASA’s electric experimental aircraft, the X-57 “Maxwell,” is nearing the end of ground tests and being prepared for the installation of batteries, the agency said late last week. The X-57 is a modified Tecnam P2006T will fly later this year in a "Mod II" configuration, with the battries installed but still using its two avgas-powered Rotax engines. A final configuration, slated to fly in 2025, will replace the Rotax engines with 14 leading-edge-mounted electric motors.

According to NASA, the project is a research platform to build confidence in cleaner and more energy-efficient aircraft. Under the project, the agency will test and determine the airworthiness of electrified aircraft technologies, including battery technology, electric motor capabilities, and distributed electric propulsion.

“The X-57 project has made substantial contributions to the field of electric aircraft propulsion as an initial pathfinder building a knowledge base of expertise that is influencing industry standards and contributing to future electric vehicle demonstrations,” said Heather Maliska, the X-57 project manager at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

Lessons learned from the X-57 project are already being shared with industry and academia to develop pathways for future electric aircraft, NASA said.