Tier 1 in flight

Robinson R44
Tier 1
Santa Ana, California, USA

The Tier 1 Robinson R44 electric helicopter was built under contract from Lung Biotechnology PBC https://lungbiotechnology.com/ 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.


Tier 1 in flight
Tier 1 in flight
The tail of the Tier 1
The tail of the Tier 1
The batteries of the Tier 1
The batteries of the Tier 1


Passengers 2
Gross Weight 2500 lb 1134 kg
Estimated Max Flight Time
20 min
Estimated Range 30 NM 55.56 km
Desired Flight Time
150 min
Desired Payload 600 lbs 272 kg
Battery Weight
1100 lbs 499 kg




Tier 1, Electric HelicoptersFlight Testing2 PassengerElectric/Batteries, Piloted