A new modular, subscale remotely piloted aircraft offers NASA researchers more affordable options for developing a wide range of cutting edge aviation and space technologies. The Prototype-Technology Evaluation and Research Aircraft (PTERA) flying laboratory bridges the gap between wind tunnels and crewed flight testing.
The ability to alter PTERA’s configuration allows cost-effective testing of unconventional designs that might otherwise be too dangerous or expensive to test with a full-scale, crewed aircraft. The PTERA aircraft are configured to resemble an 11%-scale Boeing 737 with a wingspan of 11.3-feet and 200-pound gross weight. Powered by two 50-pound-thrust JetCat P200 engines, each PTERA has a semi-modular airframe designed to accommodate a variety of configurations and technologies.