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NASA Marks Milestones in Development of Electric X-57



 
 
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Old June 22nd 19, 10:28 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default NASA Marks Milestones in Development of Electric X-57


https://www.avweb.com/recent-updates...nt-milestones/

NASA Electric X-Plane Reaches Development Milestones
Kate O'Connor
June 20, 20190

NASA X-57 Maxwell Mod II
Image: AFRC TV / Steve Parcel

NASA’s all-electric X-plane has made significant progress toward its
stated goal of “demonstrating innovative technology through
electric-powered experimental flight,” the agency announced on
Thursday:
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstro...c-X-Plane.html
.. The X-57 Maxwell, a modified Tecnam P2006T, has been undergoing a
series of phased modifications (“Mods”) in preparation for its first
flight and eventual use as an electric propulsion research platform.

As part of Mod II activity, which has included replacing the
aircraft’s two combustion engines with electric cruise motors, the
NASA team completed its first successful test of the motors and
propellers since installing them on the aircraft. “This is the first
time we’ve had the electric motors installed with propellers and had
them spinning,” said NASA’s X-57 Principal Investigator Sean Clarke.
“This was a big milestone, as it was a big systems test where we were
able to run both motors on the airplane at the same time. It’s really
exciting to actually have all of the systems integrated and to be able
to operate the vehicle that we’ve been designing for our system
tests.”

Testing took place at the Scaled Composites facility in Mojave,
California. The initial “spin test” was conducted using a ground power
supply with plans to repeat it using battery power in the
not-too-distant future. Following that, the aircraft will be delivered
to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, for
verification, taxi, and flight tests.

Working simultaneously, the X-57 Mod III team has taken delivery of a
new wing from contractor Empirical Systems Aerospace (ESAero). Mod III
involves replacing the P2006T’s wings with high-aspect-ratio wings and
moving the electric motors to the wingtips. According to NASA, the new
wing will undergo verification testing followed by weight and balance
measurement, ground vibration testing and wing loading tests. In
preparation for the final phase, Mod IV, the wing will then be sent
back to ESAero to have twelve nacelles added. Each nacelle will house
a small, high-lift electric motor and propeller. In addition to being
NASA’s first all-electric X-plane, the X-57 will be the agency’s first
crewed X-plane in two decades.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/No9Rq3VE0FI
----------------------------------------------------------

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstro...c-X-Plane.html

June 20, 2019

‘Concept to Reality’: NASA Marks Milestones in Development of Electric
X-57

Engineers and specialists prepare X-57s Mod III wing for testing in
the Flight Loads Lab at NASA Armstrong.

Engineers and specialists prepare X-57s Mod III wing for testing in
the Flight Loads Laboratory at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center
in Edwards, California. Here, the wing began preparation for several
tests, including weight and balance measurement, ground vibration
testing, and wing loading tests. The high-aspect ratio wing contains
40 percent the area of the Mod II vehicle’s baseline wing, and will
feature repositioning the two large electric cruise motors out to the
wingtips to help boost efficiency.
Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich

NASA’s X-57 project has marked two critical milestones, taking two
major steps toward demonstrating the benefits of electric propulsion
for aviation.

More general aviation aircraft are in the air every year, which means
that the challenge to address aircraft efficiency, noise and emissions
becomes greater. NASA’s X-57 Maxwell, the agency’s first all-electric
X-plane, will seek to meet that challenge by demonstrating innovative
technology through electric-powered experimental flight.

The X-57 project is achieving this through several successive phases,
in which the aircraft, a Tecnam P2006T, will undergo different
modifications, or “Mods,” which NASA is tackling simultaneously to
progress from one phase to the next, both safely and efficiently.

One of these milestones was achieved as part of X-57’s Mod II activity
– the configuration in which the X-57 project will flight test the
research propulsion system, and will eventually fly as a fully
electric aircraft. Mod II includes the replacement of the baseline
aircraft’s two inboard combustion engines with electric cruise motors.

Having integrated much of the initial electric system into the Mod II
aircraft, engineers for the first time tested the motors and
propellers, integrated onto the vehicle, in an initial spin test.

“This is the first time we’ve had the electric motors installed with
propellers and had them spinning,” said Sean Clarke, NASA’s Principal
Investigator for X-57. “This was a big milestone, as it was a big
systems test where we were able to run both motors on the airplane at
the same time.

Sceptor City
X-57, pictured here in its final Mod IV configuration, will be powered
by a battery system that consists of 16 battery modules. This system
will comprise 800 lbs of the aircraft’s total weight. NASA Aeronautics
researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that electric
propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more
environmentally friendly.
Credits: NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc

“It’s really exciting to actually have all of the systems integrated
and to be able to operate the vehicle that we’ve been designing for
our system tests. It’s a huge opportunity for us, so we’re very
excited.”

The test, which took place at Scaled Composites’ facility in Mojave,
California, verified that the propellers, which pull energy from the
motor to provide thrust and propel the aircraft, operate as expected
as the motors were provided with significant amounts of power for the
first time.

Instead of using batteries, which the vehicle will ultimately use
during taxi and flight tests, the spin test was carried out from the
ground using a power supply. Following stages of Mod II testing
include repeating the test with the use of batteries, and delivery of
the Mod II aircraft to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in
Edwards, California. Once delivered to NASA, the Mod II aircraft will
undergo verification, followed by taxi tests, and eventually,
experimental flight tests.

While Mod II proceeds toward testing, efforts are already well
underway for X-57’s Mod III phase.

Mod III includes the replacement of the aircraft’s baseline wing with
a new, high-aspect ratio wing, and features the repositioning of the
electric cruise motors out to the wingtips – an arrangement that
presents the potential to boost aircraft efficiency considerably, but
was not feasible with heavier, traditional combustion engines.

X-57’s Mod III activity also achieved a major milestone, as NASA
received delivery of the Mod III wing from the project’s prime
contractor, Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. of San Luis Obispo,
California, or ESAero.

Upon delivery of the wing, NASA immediately began running tests to
verify that its specifications and components are sound, and that the
wing matches NASA’s structure and design models.

The electric motors for X-57’s Mod II vehicle and their propellers
were powered up and spun together for the first time.
The electric motors for X-57’s Mod II vehicle and their propellers
were powered up and spun together for the first time as part of an
integrated spin test. Chris Higbee, Project Engineer at Scaled
Composites, is seen in the cockpit of the Mod II vehicle, which is the
aircraft’s first of three electric configurations. The wind turbines
seen along the hillside in the background illustrate a noticeable,
appropriate impression of the future final phase of X-57, known as Mod
IV, which will feature 12 small electric high-lift motors and
propellers along its wing.
Credits: AFRC TV / Steve Parcel

NASA’s testing of the wing, which was built by Xperimental LLC in San
Luis Obispo, includes weight and balance measurement, ground vibration
testing, and wing loading tests. Weight and balance measurement
determines the total mass and the center of gravity on the wing, and
helps NASA verify that the aircraft will perform correctly during taxi
and flight tests.

Ground vibration testing, or GVT, considers the engineering challenges
of the relatively thin, high aspect-ratio wing, which could be prone
to flutter and other vibration conditions in flight. The GVT lets NASA
verify whether the structural properties built into the wing matches
what is expected for flight.

Finally, the wing will undergo wing loading tests. These tests will
confirm whether the wing structure acts as predicted as it carries the
approximately 3,000 pound aircraft through flight.

“I think that getting the wing here really brings Mod III to reality
for the team,” said X-57 Deputy Operations Engineering Lead Kirsten
Boogaard. “Having the wing come here and people being able to see the
size of it, the look of it, just actually see it in person instead of
in models, I think, is a really big deal for the project.

“It’s a cool thing when ideas go from concept to reality, but that’s
what NASA does.”

After these tests are complete, NASA will then send the wing back to
ESAero, where the wing will undergo fit checks onto a second
“fit-check” fuselage. Here, the wing will also have 12 nacelles
integrated, which will eventually house 12 small, electric high-lift
motors and propellers, which will be featured on X-57’s final phase,
Mod IV.

NASA’s X-57 project is operated under the agency’s Aeronautics
Research Mission Directorate.

https://youtu.be/No9Rq3VE0FI
NASA’s X-57 project has marked two critical milestones in the
development of the agency’s first all-electric experimental aircraft,
or X-plane, which will demonstrate the benefits of electric propulsion
for aviation. Engineers for the first time tested the motors and
propellers together for the project’s Mod II activity, which is the
first electric configuration of the vehicle. Meanwhile, NASA received
delivery of the wing for the project’s following Mod III activity,
allowing testing to progress for two of X-57’s three electric
configurations. For more, please visit NASA.gov/X57
Credits: AFRC TV

Matt Kamlet
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

Last Updated: June 20, 2019
Editor: Monroe Conner
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