NASA has released multiple concept art images for its fully electric X-plane, called the X-57 Maxwell.
The X-plane series of aircraft’s, or ‘experimental aircraft’s’ are designed with advancing the limitations of current aviation. One of the most well known X-planes was the Bell X-1. This aircraft was the first to fly at supersonic speeds in 1947, piloted by Major Charles E. Yeager of the U.S. Air Force.
The X-57 will not be breaking any speed records, but it could represent a huge step forward in the development of all-electric airplanes. The design of X-57 seen below is based on the Italian-made Tecnam P2006T twin-engine propeller plane.
This current rendition of the X-57 has a narrow, high-aspect-ratio wing that’s designed to boost efficiency and reduce drag in flight. The X-57 also features electric cruise motors with five-foot diameter propellers on the wingtips meant to recover energy that would be lost to wingtip vortices otherwise.
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The twelve smaller high-lift motors and propellers, six on each wing, will allow the aircraft to take-off and land at standard speeds. These smaller motors will activate during take-off and deactivate when the aircraft enters cruise mode.
If all goes according to plan, NASA will use the X-57 to emphasis the benefits of using electricity to power airplanes, these include increased efficiency, reduced or eliminated in-flight carbon emissions, and quieter flights.