NASA has released a series of concept images of the X-57 Maxwell electric airplane, showcasing aspects of its final Mod IV configuration during different flight modes.
The artist’s concept image shows the Maxwell in its final configuration. This configuration, known as Mod IV, features a high-aspect ratio wing, relocation of the cruise motors to the wingtips, and 12 smaller high-lift motors with propellers for takeoff and landing.
The small high-lift motors will activate along the wing’s leading edge, spinning their propellers and providing lift for takeoff and landing. The high-lift motors will deactivate during cruise mode, and their propeller blades will fold into the nacelles to reduce drag. The motors will reactivate and use centrifugal force to spin the blades back out to provide necessary lift for landing.
NASA is making progress toward the first flight of the X-57 Maxwell—its first all-electric X-plane, and first piloted X-plane in two decades. The agency recently ran a series of structural ground tests on the Mod II Maxwell, giving engineers a look at the vehicle’s predicted characteristics during flight. In addition to testing the X-57’s cruise motor controllers, which are critical for providing power to the aircraft’s electric motors, similar ground vibration testing took place on the wing and fuselage.