NASA has selected Tecnam’s P2006T, more commonly referred to as the Tecnam Twin, as the base platform for a new all-electric program named the Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology project, or LEAPTech for short. Within a few years, NASA hopes to fly a prototype of the airplane modified with a 31-foot wing equipped with 18 electric motors powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries. The conceptual airplane project currently goes under the name X-plane.
In addition to not having to create an entire airplane from scratch, using an existing airframe as a test bed for LEAPTech has the benefit of being able to compare the performance of the X-plane with the performance of the P2006T in its current form, NASA said. The goal of the project is to evaluate whether electric power can make flying more efficient, safer, less expensive and more environmentally friendly.
But before the concept can be tested in the skies there will be a lot of testing on the ground. For the initial development, a Hybrid-Electric Integrated Systems Testbed (HEIST) wing has been created and mounted to a modified truck, which has already undergone preliminary testing up to 40 mph at Oceano County Airport in California. Eventually the rig will take the HEIST to the test at speeds up to 70 mph driving across a dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, NASA said.
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