Tier 1 Engineering e-R44 1st Generation
e-R44 1st Generation
Tier 1 Engineering
Santa Ana, California, USA
Founded in 2009 by Glen Dromgoole, Tier 1 Engineering is a provider of engineering and manufacturing services, specializing in the development of lightweight structures. The company offers engineering design, analysis, fabrication, material cutting, testing documentation, research and development and more, to the aerospace, energy, marine, medical and the consumer product sectors.
The e-R44 1st Generation is a one person/pilot electric helicopter demonstrator using a modified Robinson Helicopter R44 for the aircraft. The e-R44 has one main rotorblade, one tail rotor, two electric motors, battery packs, control systems and has fixed skid landing gear.
The Tier 1 Robinson R44 electric helicopter (N3115T) was built under contract from Lung Biotechnology PBC and was known as the 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. At the time, very few people were interested in electric vertical flight and the idea that manufactured organs would one day be available for lifesaving surgeries seemed a distant and unrealistic dream.
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 lb (500 kg) of Brammo Lithium Polymer batteries, twin electric motors and a control system from Rinehart Motion Systems. According to the Tier 1 press release, the helicopter...
...achieved a successful first hover on Tuesday, September 13th, a first hover taxi on Wednesday, September 14th and a record five minute cruise flight to 400 feet altitude with a peak speed of 80 knots on Wednesday, September 21st. The helicopter was a modified Robinson R44 test piloted by Captain Ric Webb of OC Helicopters.
The flight on September 21, 2016 lasted for five minutes at 400 ft (120 m) and 80 kt (148 km/h), and landing with 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 600 lb (272 kg).
On December 7, 2018, the e-R44 1st Generation helicopter set the Guinness World Record for the farthest distance traveled by an electric helicopter. The vehicle covered over 34 miles (55 km) at an average speed of 92 mph (148 km/h) and at an altitude of 800 ft (244 m) at the Los Alamitos Army Airfield (California, USA) under a special airworthiness certificate issued by the FAA. Captain Ric Webb of OC Helicopters was the test pilot.
- Aircraft type: Electric helicopter demonstrator
- Piloting: 1 pilot
- Cruise speed: 92 mph (148)
- Range: 34 miles (55 km)
- Estimated flight time: 20 minutes
- Cruise altitude: 400 ft
- Empty weight: 1,250 lb (567 kg)
- Maximum payload: 600 lb (272 kg)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 2,500 lb (1,134 kg)
- Rotorblades: 1 main rotor blade, 1 tail rotor
- Electric Motors: 2 electric motors
- Power source: Lithium polymer batteries by Brammo, 700 volt, 100 amp-hour
- Fuselage: Welded steel tubing and riveted aluminum sheet
- Windows: Panoramic helicopter windows in the cockpit
- Landing gear: Fixed skid helicopter landing gear
- Safety features: The helicopter can autorotate in case of power failure
- Tier 1 Engineering website
- Tier 1 Engineering YouTube Channel
- Tier 1 Engineering LinkedIn
- Video: Historic battery-powered helicopter flight at Los Alamitos Army Airfield, Tier 1 Engineering, Sept. 30, 2016
- Article: Tier 1 Engineering Accomplishes Historic Battery-Powered Full-Size Helicopter Flight At Los Alamitos Army Airfield, Cision PR Newswire, Sept. 30, 2016
- Article: A First Electric Helicopter with a Humanitarian Mission, Sustainable Skies, Oct. 13, 2016
- Video: World Record 30 minute 800 feet Electric Helicopter Flight, Martine Rothblatt, Feb. 26, 2017
- Video: Lung Bioengineering: LB-1 EVLP Clinical Trial, Lung Bioengineering, Apr. 20, 2017
- Article: Longest flight by electric helicopter (prototype), Guinness World Records, Dec. 7, 2018
- Article: Electric helicopter sets Guinness World Record, Vertical Magazine, Dec. 11, 2018
- Article: Electric VTOL for Organs on Demand, Vertiflite, March/April 2019
- Article: Tier 1 Engineering Reveals Its Second Battery-Electric Robinson R44 Helicopter, Vertiflite, Sept/Oct 2021
- Article: Tier 1 Teams with magniX for New e-R44, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2022
- Article: Tier 1 Engineering Flies magniX-Powered e-R44 Electric Helicopter for First Time, Electric VTOL News, June 7, 2022
- Article: Tier 1 Engineering flies R44 with magniX electric power unit, Vertical Magazine, June 8, 2022
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