Tier 1 Robinson R44

Tier 1 | Santa Ana, California, USA

The Tier 1 Robinson R44 electric helicopter was built under contract from Lung Biotechnology PBC as an Electrically-Powered Semi-Autonomous Rotorcraft for Organ Delivery (EPSAROD). The idea is that the Tier 1 will be able to quickly transport organs to those that need them at nearby hospitals.

The modification of a standard Robinson R44 took six months with Tier 1’s nine-person team. The team designed and integrated all of the vehicle’s sub-systems, which included 1100 pounds of Brammo Lithium Polymer batteries, twin electric motors and a control system from Rinehart Motion Systems .

The first flight of the aircraft was on September 21, 2016, where it flew for five minutes at 121 m and 148 km/h and still had 80% of its reserve power. With better batteries, the Tier 1 Robinson R44 will be expected to fly for 150 minutes and lift a payload of 272 kg.

On December 7, 2018, Tier 1’s Robinson 44 set the record for the farthest distance traveled by an electric helicopter. The vehicle covered over 55 km at an average speed of 148 km/h at the Los Alamitos Army Airfield under a special airworthiness certificate issued by the FAA. This has set a Guinness World Record.