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Area-I (NASA) PTERA


Unmanned Sub-Scale Wing Morphing Test Aircraft


Aviation / Aerospace

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Official image from public release.
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Official image from public release.
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Official image from public release.

The Area-I PTERA subscale unmanned platform is being actively used by NASA to test wing morphing capabilities in-flight.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/8/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
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.

Specifications



Year:
2015
Status
Active, In-Service
Crew
0
[ 2 Units ] :
Area-I, Incorporated / NASA - USA
National flag of United States United States
- X-Plane / Developmental
- Unmanned
Width:
14.67 ft (4.47 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Area-I (NASA) PTERA production model)
2 x JetCat P200 engines developing 50lb of thrust each unit.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Area-I (NASA) PTERA production model)
Max Speed:
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)
None.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Area-I (NASA) PTERA production model)
PTERA - Base Series Name.
General Assessment
Firepower  
Performance  
Survivability  
Versatility  
Impact  


Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of a possible 100.
14
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (168mph).

Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (2)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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