A prototype battery-powered Robinson R44 has been flown in California. It’s being developed to make quieter deliveries to hospitals
On 21 September California-based Tier 1 Engineering flew a battery-powered Robinson R44 for the first time. It was airborne at Los Alamitos Army Airfield for five minutes, reaching 400ft and 80kt. The modified R44 is equipped with 700V, 100Ah Brammo lithium polymer batteries and two Rinehart Motion Systems three-phase permanent magnet synchronous electric motors stacked together to provide redundancy in the event of a motor failure. The range of the experimental prototype is 30nm, endurance twenty minutes, but Tier 1’s goal is to develop a battery-powered rotorcraft with a 600lb payload.
The company is developing the craft for Lung Biotechnology PBC, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, which intends to produce an electric-powered helicopter for distributing manufactured transplant organs to hospitals, with much less noise and carbon footprint than current technology.