NASA Electric Plane

Imagine an electric airplane. Yes, one run by electricity and probably recharged at the next stop. That is what NASA has been looking over as they bid to bring the first ‘Air Tesla’ to the world. Just as Tesla revolutionized the electric car journey, so does NASA, which wants to bring commercially viable electric planes to the sky.

The airplane dubbed the X-57 will begin thanks to the Italian designed Tecnam P2006T twin-engine light aircraft which NASA recently got hold of. They plan to replace the two gas-fueled engines with 14 electric motors, and the wing of the aircraft is also expected to be replaced with a long skinny one.

Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator, said that the X-57 was nicknamed, ‘Maxwell,’ after the Scottish physicist who led work in electromagnetism, James Clerk Maxwell. As such Tesla is also named after the famous electrical engineer and physicist, Nikola Tesla. Tesla originally gave a design for the electric motor, which the company itself used for the Tesla Roadster.

The X-57 is being pushed so that it can drive and demonstrate ‘advanced technologies to reduce the use of fuel, and fuel emissions and noise, and in the process, it would help increase their introduction and adaptation to the marketplace. As of late researchers have been looking at various ways and methods to exploit hydrogen cells and any electric power plants so that they can replace the fuel burning engines.

It is known that the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been working on a hybrid drone in partnership with Honeywell (HON) and Rolls-Royce.

The idea of electric planes seems to be moving into the commercial sector also. Airbus and Siemens all pledged to put up 200 engineers to work on the project. The CEO of Airbus, Tom Enders projected that by 2030 a 100 seat hybrid electric passenger plane could be in the air by then. Just last year the company flew a two-seat electric plane over the English Channel.

Boeing is also working on its own version of the electric plane. Boeing is looking at ways that could see its planes initially start up with the conventional jet engines, but then they would shift to electric engines when they are up in the air.