Unveiled on Friday, Maxwell is NASA’s first crewed X-plane in two decades. It is adapted from Italian Tecnam P2006T aircraft.
NASA took delivery of its first all-electric experimental aircraft from Empirical Systems Aerospace (ESAero) of San Luis Obispo, California on October 2.
ESAero delivered the X-57 at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, in the first of three configurations as an all-electric aircraft, known as Modification II, or Mod II.
A goal of the X-57 project is to help develop certification standards for emerging electric aircraft markets, including urban air mobility vehicles, which also rely on complex distributed electric propulsion systems.
NASA will share the aircraft’s electric propulsion-focused design and airworthiness process with regulators and industry, which will advance certification approaches for aircraft utilizing distributed electric propulsion.
The X-57 uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It uses a dozen small motors located across the wing to increase airflow so that the wing produces lift even when the aircraft is flying slowly.