Civil Helicopters News

Electric Robinson R44 Completes First Short-Distance Flight

Electric Robinson R44 Completes First Short-Distance Flight

Tier 1 Engineering, an aviation and aerospace component manufacturing company, has successfully flown a modified all-electric helicopter, making it the first company to fly a battery-powered helicopter a distance of 21 nm (38 km).

The flight, which took place on October 29, saw Tier 1 Engineering’s Robinson R44 helicopter travel from Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport to Palm Springs International Airport in California.

The 21-nautical-mile flight is equal to the distance of the first commercial helicopter flight across the English Channel in 1947, according to Tier 1 Engineering. The flight was done in collaboration with Lung Biotechnology PBC on the modification project.

The helicopter, which uses quick-swap technology for its battery packs, only needs 15 minutes for a battery swap or one hour for a full recharge.

“Progress in the development of all-electric propulsion is similar to other periods of significant advance in aviation. The first aircraft flew short distances, and many people were afraid to ride in the new flying machines. At the start of the Jet Age, there was widespread skepticism about the commercial viability of the turbine engine. Today’s historic flight demonstrates the potential of all-electric rotorcraft and we are thrilled by this achievement,” said Glen Dromgoole, President, Tier 1 Engineering.

Lung Biotechnology PBC plans to deliver transplantable organs to save patients’ lives without any carbon footprint once the aircraft completes FAA certification, according to Martine Rothblatt, Chief Executive Officer, United Therapeutics, which is the parent company of Lung Biotechnology.

“These flights are the building blocks that lay the foundation where our future can continue to soar. I am excited and honored to be part of this amazing team, this historic event and furthering the advancement of making blue skies green,” said pilot Ric Webb, Chief Executive Officer, OC Helicopters.