With 18 electric motors and one-third the wing area of a regular aircraft, the electric planes of NASA’s design seem too good to be true. But however illusive the concept of electric aviation might seem, NASA is determined to make it work within the next ten years.
First of all, NASA plans to test its carbon composite prototypes equipped with lithium iron phosphate batteries at low speeds, and then provide for truck-based testing of its LEAPTech wing at speeds of up to 70mph. Finally, if the previous tests are successful, the wing will be mounted on a commercial Tecnam P2006T plane to be tested under actual flight conditions.
The LEAPTech technology NASA nurtured in cooperation with two private companies is supposed to be able to provide for uniform increase of air velocity across the entire wing area, while boosting the lift and reducing the drag. Plus each of the engines is to be controlled by a separate computer, which allows for a better performance flexibility. Thus, though the speed and flight range issues remain, the use of the above technology is expected to result in a higher efficiency, faster speed and lower noise of electric aircrafts.
Anyways, NASA has sure a lot of work to do before it can even dare to use pilots to test the aircrafts.