US space agency Nasa is set to commence high-voltage functional ground testing of its first all-electric X-plane, X-57 Maxwell.

To be conducted at Nasa’s Armstrong Flight Research Centre in Edwards, California, the test will help develop certification standards for emerging electric aircraft.

During the test, engineers will initially check the start-up, shutdown sequences and the new motor control software.

California-based Empirical Systems Aerospace (ESAero), which is the prime contractor of the project, redesigned the software and other major components after previous testing.

The tests will include higher-power operation of the vehicle. The first pair of electric cruise motors designed for the X-57 and delivered by ESAero will be powered up and activated.

Motors will be throttled up to ensure that expected power are delivered.

Furthermore, the vehicle’s instrumentation system will also be validated.

Nasa X-57 principal investigator Sean Clarke said: “Many of the team members operating this test will be the same ones who will be sitting in the control room for flight, and that’s why I’m excited.

“We’ve turned a corner from system design and lab tests, to turning it over to the Nasa flight systems and operations engineers to actually operate the vehicle. What they’re learning in this test, they’ll take with them into the control room for first flight.”

The X-57 is currently in its first configuration as an electric aircraft dubbed Mod 2 and will leverage a battery support device for the testing phase.

The high-voltage test will be followed by final verification and validation test, which is the last stage prior to starting taxi testing.

Nasa modified an Italian Tecnam P2006T aircraft with an electric propulsion system for the development of the X-57. The P2006T will be equipped with 12 small motors across the wing to increase airflow.