Hampton, Virginia, USA
NASA’s Puffin is an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) tail-sitting personal flying device.
The Puffin stands 3.7 m tall (or long in flight mode) with a wingspan of 4.4 m. Near the wingtips are 60 hp electric motors for two 2.2 m propellers. It is a “tail-sitter” and the four point landing gear contract into a twin tail-boom in flight. The vehicle weighs 272 kg, carries 45 kg of batteries and has a pilot payload of 91 kg for a total weight of 408 kg. It would have a speed of up to 241 km/h and an 80 km range at lower, more efficient speeds.
NASA announced the design in November 2009, and the first scaled prototype took flight in February 2010. No plans exist for building a full sized Puffin. The prototype provides data and supports a proof-of-concept.
NASA researcher Mark Moore designed the personal air vehicle as part of earning his doctoral degree. He and a team made up from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Institute of Aerospace, and M-DOT Aerospace discussed the Puffin at the American Helicopter Society conference on aeromechanics in January 2010.
The vehicle earned its name because a puffin looks very awkward with wings that appear too small to fly (the bird does fly up to 88 km/n flapping its wings up to 400 beats a minute). It is also called “the most environmentally friendly bird” because it hides its waste which parallels the NASA Puffin’s near zero emissions.
Some of NASA's other VTOL projects include the NASA LA-8 eVTOL Testbed and NASA Greased Lightning.
|Maximum takeoff weight
|Empty Weight (w/o batteries)
|Pilot or Payload Maximum Weight
|2x 60-horsepower electric motors
Range at max payload
- Website: NASA Puffin
- Video: NASA Puffin Low Noise, Electric VTOL Personal Air Vehicle, NASAPAV, November 11, 2009
- Article: NASA's Puffin Is a Stealthy, Personal Tilt-Rotor Aircraft, Popular Science, January 19, 2010
- Article: NASA’s Puffin Is Way Cooler Than a Jetpack, Wired, January 21, 2010
- Video: NASA Puffin Electric VTOL 1/3 Scale Initial Hover Tests, NASAPAV, February 18, 2010
- Video: NASA Puffin Personal Electric VTOL - Updated Version, NASAPAV, May 16, 2015
- Article: NASA Launches Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge, evtol.news, November 5, 2018
- Article: NASA Releases Two UAM Consultant Reports, evtol.news, November 12, 2018
- Article: NASA Embraces Urban Air Mobility, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2019
- Article: NASA Holds Supply Chain Workshop, evtol.news, February 5, 2020
- Article: NASA’s National Campaign, Vertiflite, May/June 2020