Sunday, January 24, 2010

Puffin: the one-person electric aircraft


NASA engineers have designed an extremely quiet one-person electrically powered aircraft that can hover like a helicopter and fly like a plane. The “Puffin” launches from an upright position with the tail split into four legs that serve as stable landing/take-off gear.




The 3.7-meter-long craft has two wings with a combined wingspan of 4.1 meters. Each wing is has a 2.3 meter wide propeller. Flaps on the wings direct the air from the rotors upward while the aircraft is on the ground, and then direct it downwards allowing the Puffin to rise, and then hover as it leans over to begin its flight with the craft (and pilot) horizontal.

The aircraft was designed by NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, in collaboration with the National Institute of Aerospace, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and M-DOT Aerospace. It is designed to be manufactured from carbon fiber composites and would weigh only around 135 kg, plus 45 kg of rechargeable lithium phosphate batteries.

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