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News: NASA Pulls Plug On X-57 Electric Aircraft

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  1. X-57 Electric Project Comes To An End
    NASA was working on an electric aircraft in the background for a while now and just pulled the plug on the project. The NASA X-57 never even made it to first flight before they shelved the program. Towards the end of last month the agency made the announcement that it would be ending the program. They expect to totally wrap-up all work dealing with the aircraft by September. They also want to publish a paper citing the successes and failures of the program.
  2. The program used a modified Tecnam P2006T with electric powerplants. They have discovered a new problem with the electric propulsion system that poses an “unacceptable” safety risk. The original design for the X-57 called for fourteen electric propulsors but straight away the program experienced short-circuiting and overheating that led to thermal runaway events. Following reanalysis and redesign of the battery packs a new problem occurred when the engineers determined that parts of the electrical system would not be able to withstand the rigors of flight.
  3. The 14-prop idea under the MOD IV variant was scaled back to just two electric engines under MOD II. That aircraft was billed to make its first flight later this year but engineers discovered more problems that would make the aircraft unsafe for flight. "Unfortunately, we recently discovered a potential failure mode in the propulsion system that we've determined to pose an unacceptable risk to the pilot's safety and safety of personnel on the ground during ground tests," Brad Flick, director of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, said during a conference call with reporters. "Mitigation of that failure would take the project well beyond its planned end at the end of this fiscal year, so NASA has decided to end the project on time without taking the vehicle to flight".

    For more information:

    NASA Headquarters
    300 E. Street SW, Suite 5R30
    Washington, DC 20546
    www.nasa.gov

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