Battery-powered full-size helicopter tested
by YULIUS YOMA
On the 21st of September 2016, Tier 1 Engineering announced that its battery-powered manned helicopter program achieved a successful five minute cruise flight to 400 feet altitude with a peak speed of 80 knots (148 kph). 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 Manufacturing Inspection District Offices (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 Tier 1 Engineering team designed and integrated all of the helicopter sub-systems, which included 1,100 pounds (499 kg) of Brammo Lithium Polymer batteries, twin electric motors and a control system from Rinehart Motion Systems.
The historic five-minute flight drained approximately 20% of the battery.