The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 17 June 2016 unveiled the iconic X-57 Hybrid Electric Research Plane nicknamed as Maxwell.
The plane is fixed with 14 electric motors turning propellers and all of them are integrated into a uniquely-designed wing. NASA will use this plane to test new propulsion technology.
Highlights of X-57 Hybrid Electric Research Plane
• The airplane is named after James Clerk Maxwell, the 19th century Scottish physicist who did groundbreaking work in electromagnetism.
• The artist's concept of the X-57 shows the plane's specially designed wing and 14 electric motors.
• NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that how electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
• Maxwell will be powered only by batteries, eliminating carbon emissions and demonstrating how demand would shrink for lead-based aviation fuel still in use by general aviation.
• Energy efficiency at cruise altitude using X-57 technology could benefit travellers by reducing flight times, fuel usage, as well as reducing overall operational costs for small aircraft.
• Moreover, X-57’s electric propulsion technology is expected to significantly decrease aircraft noise, making it less annoying to the public.
With the return of piloted X-planes to NASA’s research capabilities, the general aviation-sized X-57 will take the first step in opening a new era of aviation.
The first X-plane was the X-1, which in 1947 became the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound. The X-1 project defined and solidified the post-war cooperative union between US military needs, industrial capabilities and research facilities.