NASA today unveiled plans to spend the next decade working on electric planes under the ‘X-57’ moniker. The X-Plane program has traditionally been used by NASA to further aviation so this is a big deal more than just a pet project or some 3D renders.
The plane which is also called ‘Maxwell’ to honor James Clerk Maxwell, the 19th century Scottish physicist who did groundbreaking work in electromagnetism, will be based on the Italian Tecnam P2006T, a very efficient 4 seat light aircraft (pictured above). NASA will do away with the wing and petrol engines and replace them with a super-efficient thinner wing and 14 electric motors. The smaller 12 motors will only be used for takeoffs and what we can probably assume is regen during landings. The larger 2 engines on the end of the wings will propel the plane during cruising which is expected to be a solid 175mph. The Tecnam has retractable wheels and a 1500-foot take off distance which should make it a good base for an EV makeover.
There are a lot of things to unpack here… expand full story