Tier 1 Engineering announced that it has successfully completed an airport-to-airport flight with its all-electric helicopter design. The aircraft, a modified Robinson R44, flew between California’s Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport (TRM) and Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) on Saturday. The company is calling the trip “the first helicopter flight between airfields solely by electric power.”
“Progress in the development of all-electric propulsion is similar to other periods of significant advance in aviation,” said Tier 1 Engineering President Glen Dromgoole. “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.”
Tier 1 Engineering reported that the flight was conducted in collaboration with medical research and development company Lung Biotechnology. The aircraft that flew on Saturday is Tier 1’s third-generation “e-R44,” which the company says was designed to “deliver manufactured organs for transplant” by Lung Biotechnology parent company United Therapeutics. According to Tier 1, the model uses quick-swap battery technology that allows battery packs to be changed in 15 minutes.