Aerospace & Defence

HBK tests ground vibration on NASA's electric aircraft

2nd November 2021
Sam Holland

NASA has carried out extensive ground vibration tests on its 'Maxwell' electric aircraft to simulate the stresses that the plane would experience during a real flight.

With the increasing demand for electric-powered ground transportation, NASA wanted to prove that an aircraft could also be electrically powered. The result is the X-57 “Maxwell” airplane, which - instead of the usual gasoline-powered motors - has two, all-electric motors powered by traction batteries.

To ensure the new design meets the criteria for energy efficiency and airworthiness, NASA’s experimental aircraft underwent multiple vibration tests and the data from the accelerometers (located around the motor) was collected on a LAN-XI data acquisition system and analyser platform. This was provided by test and measurement expert, Hottinger Brüel & Kjær (HBK).

Following this, NASA’s engineers used HBK’s BK Connect software to test and analyse data from 191 test runs, with 14 different test configurations. The ground vibration test results gave NASA a much better understanding of the modal characteristics of the X-57, currently in the Mod II configuration. Work on the new aircraft will continue, with the X-57 project team updating the model now they have the necessary data.

For more information, read the full case study on HBK’s website: https://www.bksv.com/en/customers/space/nasa.

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