The PTERA is being used by the experts at NASA as a remotely-piloted research platform mimicking the form and function of a sub-scale Boeing 737 airliner. It is being used to test the validity of NASA's own "Spanwise Adaptive Wing" (SAW) which allows the wing mainplanes to "morph" at their outboard sections (15 inches out) up or down some 75-degrees. The purpose of this action is to improve control and stability while reducing drag caused by other components of an aircraft's design - namely the tail planes. Such sub-scale designs allow for more realistic testing between potentially lethal manned flights and expensive wind tunnel data-collection. The aircraft was constructed by Area-I, Incorporated.
PTERA underwent flight-testing during July 2013 and was delivered to the Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB in California during October of 2014. Its first official flight was recorded on October 22nd, 2015 and all initial mission objectives were met including reaching a maximum speed of 145 knots.
Externally the aircraft certainly looks the part of a Boeing airliner with its tubular fuselage, short nosecone and single-finned tail unit. A fixed, tricycle landing gear arrangement provides the ground-running capability. The wing mainplanes are seated at midships and are not given sweepback of any kind. The horizontal planes at the tail are positioned low along the sides of the vertical fin. Various sensors and data-collecting systems are installed about the aircraft, identified by the various protrusions seen in its profile. The fuselage is designed as modular to more easily accept changes to its load out.
Power is from 2 x JetCat P200 engines offering 50lb of thrust each and these are fitted under each wing (as in Boeing 737 airliner).
September 2018 - On September 25th, 2018, the PTERA crashed and was destroyed during its post-landing roll. The crash occurred in clear weather at Armstrong Flight Research Center. An investigation is ongoing as to the cause.
Status Active, In-Service
Production 2 Units
Area-I, Incorporated / NASA - USA
- X-Plane / Developmental
14.67 ft (4.47 m)
2 x JetCat P200 engines developing 50lb of thrust each unit.
168 mph (270 kph; 146 kts)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Area-I (NASA) PTERA production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Area-I (NASA) PTERA production model)
PTERA - Base Series Name.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of a possible 100.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (168mph).
Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
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