NASA employees conducted a full scale crash test of an eVTOL late last year at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. The eVTOL was developed by RVLT (Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology) as part of advancing NASA’s Advanced Aerial Mobility Initiative.
The full size mockup was hoisted into the air then released and swung forward, followed by impact with the ground. The mockup was fully instrumented to measure parameters during the test, including video and data channels. The test was a chance for the NASA team to validate their crash models and gain fidelity on the behavior of a composite eVTOL hull in crash scenarios as well as refine their model to better characterize how the roof and overhead structure of the hull behaves after it has failed. The model accurately characterized composite behaviors up to structure failure, NASA’s initial report stated.
These tests support NASA’s mission to assist AAM efforts safety and develop air transportation infrastructure that moves people and cargo between new locations. NASA’s considerable resources for aviation and aerospace research are being used to further that effort.
Why it’s important: NASA’s crash test allows structural model refinements that will be incorporated to future eVTOL models that will make aerial mobility aircraft safer. Further, these tests will help existing OEM’s tweak their designs to maximize safety while using careful allocations of weight in structure to return the highest strength per unit of weight. NASA’s continued investment in AAM is also an example of taxpayer and governmental investment in the future of aerial mobility technologies, indicating the degree of interest and seriousness with which the growing future mobility industry is being treated with.
Read the initial report from NASA here.