Vibration tests prove to be a key milestone for NASA’s new X-57 “Maxwell”

USA, November 2021

To ensure NASA’s new X-57 “Maxwell” electric aircraft would be energy efficient and safe for use, NASA carried out extensive ground vibration tests, simulating the stresses it 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 data from the accelerometers around the motor was collected on a LAN-XI data acquisition system and analyzer platform, provided by test and measurement expert, Hottinger Brüel & Kjær (HBK).

Following this, NASA’s engineers used HBK’s BK Connect software to test and analyze 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.

The full case study is available to read on HBK’s website: