NIAR adds test capability for electric aircraft

ϱ’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) is adding a new capability to its portfolio aimed at growing the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) market and attracting new business to the region and state.

Recently, NIAR broke ground on a new restrained flight test facility, which will include out-of-ground and in-ground effect test rigs.

The facility will provide eVTOL developers with a controlled environment for conducting restrained operation of test vehicles for research and testing to assess thrust characteristics, aerodynamics, system performance and failure conditions.

The facility features a 28-by-14-foot elevated test rig and a 20-by-20-foot ground level test rig with six-axis load cells, data acquisition systems and real-time data monitoring capabilities via a mission control room, allowing eVTOL manufacturers to evaluate vehicle system and aerodynamic performance.

The facility, which is located at Air Capital Flight Line on South Oliver in Wichita, is made possible through the Kansas Aviation Research and Testing Growth Initiative (KART), a program funded by the State of Kansas to strengthen aircraft industry technologies in the state.

Textron eAviation Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company focused on sustainable aviation solutions, is anticipating use of the facility upon completion and has served as a collaborator on the development.

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with NIAR on the development of this test facility, as its design will allow us to simulate key aspects of the flight environment for our Nexus eVTOL,” said Kriya Shortt, president and CEO of Textron eAviation. “With the build of our first full-scale technology demonstrator underway and anticipated first flight for the Nexus in 2025, this hover ramp will support an important program milestone on our path to certification.”

Textron eAviation’s Nexus eVTOL is being designed to serve a range of purposes, including passenger transport, cargo and emergency medical services markets.

In addition to the new restrained flight test facility, NIAR supports eVTOL R&D programs through existing capabilities including material development, environmental and electromagnetic test, full-scale structural test and impact testing. Most recently, NIAR’s Advanced Virtual Engineering and Test lab completed battery pack drop tests on the electric propulsion system of Archer Aviation’s Midnight aircraft.

Electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle development programs are some of the newest and most active in the aerospace industry. According to JPMorgan, the eVTOL industry could be worth $1 trillion by 2040.

Completion of the restrained flight test facility is expected in late 2024.

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Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), ϱ provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the ϱ main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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