NASA to fly electrically, the new X-57 Maxwell
6/20/2016, Milan Šurkala
Electric engines are not spreading only in hybrid and electric cars, they are finding their way into aircrafts too. NASA has developed the X-57 Maxwell aircraft that uses 14 electric engines and batteries storing the power for them.
The future is in electricity. Today, many cars are incorporating electric engines as the hybrid and electric cars are getting more and more popular. But the cars will not be the only vehicles that are going to get electric engines. We have written about solar aircraft in the past that is trying to fly over the world. NASA is joining the race in electric planes with the newly developed X-57 aircraft concept that was presented on Aviation 2016 in Washington. It got the name after James Clerk Maxwell, the Scottish physicist and the name was assigned by the U.S. Air Force. The new aircraft concept it is based on Italian Tecnam P2006T twin-engine light aircraft.
The X-planes are the part of New Aviation Horizons initiative. The goal of the X-57 is to show how to reduce noise, emissions and fuel use. The aircraft has only batteries but it was not said what the range of the X-57 is. The aircraft has 14 electric engines with propellers but only two of them are used at cruising speeds. Twelve small engines are used only for take off and landing. The X-57 is not very fast aircraft, its cruising speed is 175 mph (circa 280 km/h) only. NASA said that operational costs are approximately 40 % lower in comparison with ordinary small aircraft.