NASA engineers from the Langley Research Center have completed the flight test of a 10-engine, battery-powered prototype aircraft called Greased Lightning, which the agency plans to eventually develop into a personal air vehicle.
The remotely piloted GL-10 prototype has transitioned from vertical or hover-mode flight to forward “wing-borne” flight through a series of flight tests, Langley’s Kathy Barnstorff writes May 1.
“Now we’re working on our second goal — to demonstrate that this concept is four times more aerodynamically efficient in cruise than a helicopter,” said Bill Fredericks, an aerospace engineer at Langley.
He said the original concept for the GL-10 is as an unmanned aerial vehicle or an aircraft for small package delivery, surveillance and mapping.
“It’s because of my love for rotary wing aircraft, for vertical flight, that I’m really proud to be here today,” Bolden told a crowd at the center’s Integrated Engineering Services Building. “I don’t like catchy phrases … but I’m kind of chipper for choppers.”
According to Barnstorff, the aircraft is in the design and testing phase and currently has a 10-foot wingspan and weighs as much as 62 pounds at takeoff.
The program will move next to aerodynamic efficiency tests, Barnstorff said.
he center was honored on Friday for its decades of contributions to the advancement of helicopters and other vertical flight aircraft.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden accepted the award from the American Helicopter Society International on behalf of the agency.
The society is the world’s only international society for engineers, scientists and others working on vertical flight technology. It gave NASA a plaque that says the center’s research has contributed significantly to understanding flight aerodynamic and dynamic principles.
NASA says the plaque will be prominently displayed at Langley at a site to be determined.
NASA’s Langley Research Center Honored.