NASA has revealed concept images of its all-electric aircraft: the X-57 Maxwell.
These are the first images of the sci-fi jet in its “final configuration” – with an all-electric design known internally as Modification IV.
Nasa hopes the “experimental” jet will help speed up regulation for electric planes in the future.
It could make it easier to regulate electric planes — and start flying people around the world for business or pleasure.
“Electric aircraft offer a wide range of potential benefits to aviation, including increased efficiency, reduced or eliminated in-flight CO2 emissions, and quieter flights for communities on the ground,” NASA said.
“X-57 will help set certification standards as these electric aircraft markets emerge.”
The X-57 will be NASA’s first manned X-plane in two decades.
The space agency Nasa says the X-57 has a thin, high-aspect-ratio wing that improves efficiency by reducing drag in flight.
And it has electric cruise motors with five-foot propellers on the wingtips, which Nasa says can recover energy that would otherwise be lost.
A further 12 smaller “high-lift” engines and propellers are located on the leading edge of the wing, allowing the X-57 to take off at standard speeds.
“The high-lift engines and propellers are designed to activate in tandem with the wingtip cruise engines to get the X-Plane airborne,” NASA said.
“When the aircraft aligns for cruise mode, the high-lift engines are deactivated and the five propeller blades for each engine then stop rotating.
“And [they] fold into the nacelles so they don’t create unwanted drag while riding.
“The two wingtip cruise engines will maintain flight during this phase of flight.”
Nasa says the X-57 should be able to deliver zero CO2 emissions in flight.
And the fact that the plane uses electric propulsion should result in a “five to tenfold reduction” in greenhouse gas emissions.
The X-57 can also run on electricity from renewable energy sources (such as wind or solar) as it is powered by a battery.
According to Nasa, the X-57 will have a critical takeoff speed of 67 mph and a cruise speed of 172 mph.
It will fly at an altitude of 8,000 feet and have a maximum operating altitude of 14,000 feet. Because of its small size, that’s well below the usual cruising altitudes of commercial airliners — which would typically be between 33,000 and 42,000 feet.
But it’s relatively light at 3,000 pounds, with a battery weight of around 860 pounds, according to a 2018 Nasa report.
Nasa recently said it hopes to start its first flight test for the X-57 Maxwell no earlier than December this year, but no firm date has been announced.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9753802/nasa-fully-electric-airplane-x57-maxwell/ Rare look at Nasa’s first-ever ‘experimental’ X57 all-electric aircraft that could change flying forever