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Unmanned aircraft destroyed during research test flight

14 July 2021

At approximately 7:35am, the X-56B, a remotely piloted experimental aircraft, experienced an incident shortly after take-off from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Centre in Edwards, California.

The X-56B remotely piloted aircraft during a previous flight at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. (Credits: NASA Photo/Lauren Hughes)
The X-56B remotely piloted aircraft during a previous flight at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. (Credits: NASA Photo/Lauren Hughes)

The aircraft encountered an anomaly in flight causing a hard impact to the ground and destroyed the vehicle. There were no injuries or casualties.

At the beginning of the year, the X-56B remotely piloted aircraft began a new flight series. The flight was on April 19 at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Centre in Edwards, California, with partner Northrop Grumman.

The X-56B uses the same centrebody as the earlier X-56A, which concluded testing in 2019. The X-56A suppressed a potentially destructive vibration called flutter. Flutter suppression permitted research of the aircraft’s lightweight, flexible wings.

X-56A team also facilitated the development of tools and technologies and acquired data to validate modelling techniques. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories in Ohio is a partner on X-56B and also was a partner on the X-56A.

Check the NASA Armstrong homepage for the latest information.

For more about NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Centre, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/home/index.html


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