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Ground vibration tests prove to be a key milestone for NASA’s X-57 Maxwell

04 January 2022

It’s not only automobiles that are going electric – aeroplanes are as well! And, to prove that aircraft can be electrically powered, NASA has developed the X-57 Maxwell, its first all-electric X-plane.

The X-57 aeroplane, currently in the Mod II configuration, is a modified version of the Italian Tecnam P2006T. In place of the usual gasoline-powered motors, the X-57 has two all-electric motors powered by traction batteries. The X-57 Maxwell project has some lofty goals, including lower energy consumption (the X-57’s motors use one-fifth the energy of a gasoline-powered aircraft), reduced emissions, and lower noise during flight.

The challenge: Making it real

As NASA engineers design new electrically powered aircraft, they must ensure that their designs not only use energy efficiently, but also that the aircraft can fly safely. One way they do this is to build an analytical model of the aircraft structure and simulate the stresses the aircraft will experience while in flight. By doing this, they can uncover weaknesses in their designs and fix them, before making expensive prototypes...

Read the full article in DPA's January issue

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