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“Maxwell”: Meet NASA’s Faster, More Efficient Electric Airplane


nasaAirplanes are a great convenience to society but not to the environment. Luckily, NASA is constructing an electric airplane designed to be more efficient and quiet.

The new airplane, which was deemed X-57 by the Air Force, is expected to hold at most 9 passengers at a speed up to 175 miles per hour. It also goes by “Maxwell” because of the influence of James Clerk Maxwell, a physicist from the 19th century.

Before the airplane can become a reality, it will undergo a four year project, NASA’s Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology Operations Research (SCEPTOR), which tweaks an Italian Tecnam P2006T twin-engine aircraft already in existence. Engineers can then compare the airplane to a past design.

The electric airplane is designed around previous studies that indicated multiple motors would be better able to lift the plane because of the distribution of power. The airplane would have 14 propellers that rely off of electric motors. The airplane needs 12 propellers to aid it in takeoff and landing, while the rest can propel the airplane through the air.

The hope is that the new airplane will relieve the atmosphere of pollution, being that current airplanes use combustion engines that rely on leaded gasoline. Fewer emissions are just one benefit. The plane would be a greater convenience for travelers as well.

Travelers would experience shorter flight times on lower amounts of fuel. The airplane would be able to cruise faster without creating more emissions or using more energy. The operational costs for small aircrafts are expected to be reduced by up to 40%.

If all goes as planned to NASA, the airplane would have five times reduction of energy required to allow a similar airplane to travel at 175 mph. Hopefully, society can expect clearer skies and smoother flights in the future.


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