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Sun, Jul 09, 2023

Tecnam Foiled Again... NASA Ends Work with X-57 Testbed

X-57 Maxwell Ends X-Plane Program after Years of Developmental Woes

A modified Tecnam P2006T Traveller under the NASA X-Plane program has come to its end, sadly spending its entire life on the ground.

After an audio conference describing some of the lessons learned from the Maxwell project, NASA published an announcement stating that the "X-57 Maxwell all-electric aircraft project will conclude aircraft operational activities by the end of September, with documentation and close-out activities continuing for several months afterwards." The news is a blow to sustainable aviation enthusiasts, after months of coverage building up to a flight this fall. 

Ultimately, the cancellation comes down to a safety of flight issue, with a host of niggling issues that all add up to a roster of custom, one-off solutions. Everything from batteries and motor controllers to control boards and shielding seemed to impede the Maxwell program from one month to another. Issues with EM interference, overheating batteries, and power inverters all fostered advancements that will provide a launchpad for future endeavors in the same vein - or so NASA says. Ever the optimists, they say that even a plane that never left the ground helped to push the aviation envelope.

“NASA’s goal is to drive innovation through groundbreaking research and technology development. The X-57 project team has done just that by providing foundational information to industry through lessons learned, and we’re seeing the benefits borne out by American commercial aviation companies that are aiming to change the way we fly,” said Brad Flick, director of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, where the X-57 aircraft was developed. “I’m incredibly proud of their tenacity and ingenuity as they led the way in advancing electrified propulsion. The future of electrified propulsion is possible because of their contributions.”

“They did things that had never been done before, and that’s never easy,” Flick said. “While we prepare to finish this project later this year, I see a long list of achievements to celebrate and an industry that’s better today because of their work.”

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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