Engineers from the NASA Glenn Research Center have begun utilizing Plum Brook Station’s newest facility — NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed — to test new, electric aircraft technologies.
The engineers there are now designing, developing, and testing systems for use in the “next revolution in aviation” (electric aircraft technologies).
Testing began in September, according to NASA, when a research team “used 600 volts of electricity and successfully tested an electrical power system that could realistically power a small, one or two person aircraft.”
Following completion, NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) facility will be “a world-class, reconfigurable testbed that will be used to assemble and test the power systems for large passenger airplanes with over 20 megawatts (MW) of power.”
“As large airline companies compete to reduce emissions, fuel burn, noise, and maintenance costs, it is expected that more of their aircraft systems will shift to using electrical power,” stated Dr Rodger Dyson, NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas Electric Propulsion technical lead.
“What we’re hoping to learn now is how to make it more efficient and light-weight,” Dyson added. “Next year we’re going to upgrade the size of these motors — we’ll use the same technology to test the higher-power stuff next.”
Is SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and the relationship between the two part of the stimulus for this work? Has NASA gotten a boost from Elon’s two popular companies? One has to wonder.
NASA’s press release provides more: “By increasing efficiency and reducing weight, the technology developed here can eventually be applied to larger, commercial aircraft, potentially resulting in reduced flying costs for airline companies and travelers. NEAT’s future is bright, and Glenn’s engineers are hopeful it will spark a change in the airline industry.”
“We look forward to making a difference in aviation,” added Dyson.
We’ll keep you posted.
Images via NASA