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Pennsylvania State University MG-76 Catacopter (concept design)

Pennsylvania State University MG-76 Catacopter tandem all-electric helicopter


MG-76 Catacopter (concept design)
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

The Vertical Flight Society's (based in Fairfax, Virginia, USA) annual Student Design Competition began in 1984 and challenges students at colleges and universities around the world to design a vertical lift aircraft that meets specified requirements, provides a practical exercise for engineering students and promotes student interest in vertical flight technology. Each of the winning teams is awarded a cash stipend, while each of the first-place winning teams are invited with complimentary registration, to the Vertical Flight Society's Annual Forum and Technology Display to present the details of their designs.

In August 2021, the Vertical Flight Society announced its 39th Annual Student Design Competition. The student objective was to design an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi aircraft for to accommodate all passengers, including passengers with reduced mobility. This would include designing an aircraft to accommodate people with any type of disability, including hidden disabilities. The competition was sponsored by Bell (based in Fort Worth, Texas, USA). The winners of the 39th Annual Student Design Competition were announced on August 22, 2022.

“These are the leaders of the future vertical lift industry,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society. “We hope this experience will change them and, through the visibility of this competition, also change people who are in the eVTOL industry today.” To date, eVTOL concepts have focused on feasibility, safety, airworthiness and efficiency. But as developers clear those hurdles, the goal is to ensure electric aircraft can transport anyone and everyone, including persons with reduced mobility, visible or hidden disabilities.

The undergraduate student Penn State Flying Lions Design Team is from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, USA and won 3rd Place in the undergraduate category of the competition for their MG-76 Catacopter all-electric helicopter. The team's Executive Summary is here online. The Penn State Flying Lions Design Team consisted of Nathan Brewer, Jacob Davis, Sami Grazioli, Joshua Oslon, Thomas Hydro, Timothy Nelson, Jack Scully, Peter Jurlina, Ryan Peterson and Tyler Holcomb.

The MG-76 Catacopter is an all-electric tandem concept design helicopter and is flown by one pilot and can carry between two passengers with wheelchairs and up to four passengers without any type of reduced mobility. The electric helicopter was designed for advanced air mobility (AAM) and was also designed specifically for passengers with reduced mobility, including hidden disabilities.

The cruise speed of the helicopter is estimated to be 107 mph (172 km/h). The empty weight of the helicopter is estimated to be 13,551 lb (6,147 kg), the maximum payload is 1,416 lb (642 kg) and the maximum takeoff weight of the rotorcraft is 14,967 lb (6,789 kg).

The interior seats are removable to allow space for wheelchairs. There is also amble storage allowing each passenger to board the helicopter with several pieces of luggage. The helicopter has side doors and a rear loading ramp to make it very easy for all passengers to enter and exit the helicopter.

There are two main rotorblades, one at the front of the helicopter and a higher rotorblade in the rear of the helicopter. There are three electric motors powering each rotorblade. The helicopter looks similar to the U.S. Army's CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter but on a smaller scale. The rotorcraft has fixed quadricycle wheeled landing gear, similar to that of the Chinook military helicopter.

MG-76 Catacopter front view

MG-76 Catacopter front view

MG-76 Catacopter rotorcraft drawings

MG-76 Catacopter rotorcraft drawings

MG-76 Catacopter cockpit drawings

MG-76 Catacopter cockpit drawings


  • Aircraft type: Electric helicopter
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: 4 passengers without reduced mobility, 2 passengers with reduced mobility
  • Cruise speed: 107 mph (172 km/h)
  • Empty weight: 13,551 lb (6,147 kg)
  • Maximum payload: 1,416 lb (642 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 14,967 lb (6,789 kg)
  • Rotoblades: 2 tandem rotorblades
  • Electric Motors: 6 electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Doors: Side doors and rear loading ramp
  • Windows: Large windows providing excellent views for the passengers
  • Landing gear: Fixed quadricycle wheeled landing gear