The U.S. Space Agency, NASA has demonstrated its first all-electric experimental aircraft, the X-57 Maxwell. Its first test flight is scheduled for 2020.
NASA showed off its X-57 Maxwell electric plane, which the U.S. space agency has been working on since 2015. According to Reuters, the presentation of the aircraft took place at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.
The X-57 Maxwell or X-plane is the agency’s first all-electric experimental aircraft, known for developing numerous spacecraft. The aircraft is based on the Tecnam P2006T, but instead of traditional internal combustion engines, it is equipped with electric cruise engines. Less than a year remains before the first X-57 test flight, Maxwell writes.
The decision to introduce the X-57 Maxwell to the public for the first time was made after specialists finalized the initial version of the model, adding 14 screw motors, 12 of which are powered by electric batteries. Due to battery limitations, the aircraft is designed for short flights with few passengers. At the same time, NASA demonstrated a newly built simulator that will help pilots and engineers understand how the aircraft behaves in the air, even if some systems are still under development.
The X-57 Maxwell was the last of a series of experimental aircraft that NASA has been building for decades for a variety of purposes. Among the first experimental aircraft of the U.S. Air Force was the Bell X-1, created in 1946. It became the first American aircraft with a rocket engine and was intended to study the problems of supersonic flight. Maxwell X-57 will be the agency’s first manned pilot aircraft designed in two decades.
According to Brent Colby, the project director for the flight research center, unlike private companies that develop fully-made aircraft, NASA is committed to developing and testing the technology following the safety and airworthiness standards of aircraft.
“We focus on things that can help the entire industry, not just one company. Our goal now is to fly this aircraft at the end of 2020,” – Colby