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.

This is an electric aircraft developed by NASA to investigate the opportunities that new electric propulsion technologies offer to enable new forms of On-Demand Mobility that could promote a dramatic improvement in regional productivity. On the ground, the Puffin is designed to stand on its tail, which splits into four legs to help serve as landing gear. As a pilot prepares to take off, flaps on the wings would tilt to deflect air from the 2.3-meter-wide propeller rotors upward, keeping the plane on the ground until it was ready to fly and preventing errant gusts from tipping it over.

The concept design was projected to be capable of flying a single person at a speed of 150 miles per hour (241 km/h), with range expected to be less than 50 miles (80 km) with 2010-vintage Lithium-iron-phosphate battery technology. The design specified a 13.5 foot (4.1 m) wingspan, standing 12 feet (3.65 m) tall on the ground in its take-off or landing configuration. 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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