NASA Rethinks X Planes

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

In your editor’s childhood and youth, X Planes were all premised on speed, Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in 1947 in the Bell X-1 when your editor was five years old (do the math).  Movies that filled screens in those days featured test pilots as steely-jawed, fearless protagonists beating back the awesome forces in the sky.  Frequent news stories and breathlessly narrated newsreels, and later television news captured the imagination with items about going higher, faster, and farther. NASA is bringing back the X-plane, but emphasizing quiet, efficient, clean and practical goals.  NASA’s own description of the programs shows a turn toward green aviation in our future.  “Goals include showcasing how airliners can burn half the fuel and generate …

Five Student Teams Show Five Possible Ways to Electric Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

What will future airplanes look like?  Exciting, sleek and beautiful, if the five winners of a recent NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) challenge are any indicator.  Graduates and undergraduates were asked to design a four-seat, electrically-powered craft that “could carry at least 400 pounds of extra cargo, fly at least 575 miles during a single flight, cruise at a speed of at least 150 mph and be able to take off in less than 3,000 feet under normal conditions.”  Current materials and motors were undoubtedly intended, since the airplanes had to be ready to go into service by 2020 and be competitive with currently-available “standard piston-engine airplanes that burn fossil fuel.” This is definitely a challenge, and the students not …