NASA has just taken delivery of the X-57 Mod II, an electric powered aircraft, at their Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.
The X-57 Mod II is a modified Italian Tecnam P2006T that is powered by an all electric propulsion system. The aircraft weighs approximately 1,360 Kilograms, with 390 of those kilos being made up of lithium-ion batteries.
“The X-57 Mod II aircraft delivery to NASA is a significant event, marking the beginning of a new phase in this exciting electric X-plane project,” said X-57 Project Manager Tom Rigney.
NASA intends on using the X-57 Mod to create certification standards for an ever growing flying electric vehicle market. They will begin experiments on the X-57 Mod II by first conducting ground tests, before moving on to the next phase of testing, which includes taxiing, and eventually flight tests.
Built by Empirical System Aerospace (ESAero), X-planes are special aircraft’s that the agency uses to test and evaluate new technologies.
Whilst the X-57 Mod II is doing it’s ground tests, developments on the next evolution of the aircraft, aptly named Mods III and IV, are already underway. Key in the development of Mods III and IV was the successful completion of load testing on a new, high-aspect ratio wing.
“This milestone, along with receiving the successfully load-tested MOD III wing back, will enable NASA, ESAero and the small business team to accelerate and lead electric air vehicle distributed propulsion development on the MOD III and MOD IV configurations with integration at our facilities in San Luis Obispo.” said ESAero President and CEO Andrew Gibson.
After conducting the necessary tests, NASA will share the aircraft’s electric-propulsion-focused design and airworthiness process with all regulators and industry leaders, which will advance certification applications for aircraft’s utilising electric propulsion. The goal of the X-57 Mod projects is to help develop certification standards for an ever growing electric aircraft markets. Most notably, the Urban Air Mobility Vehicles (UAMV), which also rely on complex electric propulsion systems.