Vibration tests boost electric aircraft project

November 02, 2021 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Vibration tests boost electric aircraft project
Extensive ground vibration tests prove to be a key milestone for the new X-57 “Maxwell” electric aircraft developed by NASA.

Hottinger Brüel & Kjær (HBK), the result of a merger between HBM and Brüel & Kjær, are providing NASA with a 300+-channel LAN-XI data acquisition system and its BK Connect software for data acquisition and analysis to perform vibration tests on the new X-57 “Maxwell” electric aircraft.

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 BK Connect software from HBK 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.

BK Connect is an integrated software platform that enables users to acquire data, monitor a test or a structure in real-time, perform post-processing on acquired data, and then view, analyze and produce test reports all with a single software package. BK Connect allowed the NASA team to analyze the data without having to export the data to another software package.

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 here .


Photo courtesy of NASA.

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