Records The Furthest Distance Traveled By Such An Aircraft at 30 Nautical Miles
Tier 1 Engineering has set a Guinness World Record for the farthest distance traveled by an electric helicopter. The battery-powered manned helicopter achieved a record 30 nautical mile flight to 800 feet altitude with an average speed of 80 knots on Friday, December 7th.
The helicopter was a modified Robinson R44 test piloted by Captain Ric Webb of OC Helicopters.
All flights were accomplished at the Los Alamitos Army Airfield under a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category issued by FAA’s Los Angeles MIDO. Tier 1 Engineering accomplished the project under contract from Lung Biotechnology PBC to produce an Electrically-Powered Semi-Autonomous Rotorcraft for Organ Delivery (EPSAROD).
The company removed the aircraft's Lycoming IO-540 internal combustion engine, installed a custom mount for the electric motors and a reduction gearbox to interface with the existing drivetrain. No changes were made to drive a train or flight control system. The engine bay contains the motor controllers and cooling system for the electric drive components. The battery modules are supported by a lightweight composite panel and attached to the landing gear under the belly.
The helicopter first flew in 2016. According to a company news release at the time, the Tier 1 Engineering team designed and integrated all of the helicopter sub-systems, which included 1100 pounds of Brammo Lithium Polymer batteries, twin electric motors and a control system from Rinehart Motion Systems. The historic five-minute flight on September 21st, 2016 drained approximately 20% of the battery energy.
Lung Biotechnology PBC intends to apply the EPSAROD technology to distributing manufactured organs for transplantation to major hospitals with much less noise and carbon footprint than current technology. Tier 1 Engineering is an aircraft design and development company with operations in Costa Mesa, California, and Victoria, Australia.