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Tier 1 Engineering flies R44 with magniX electric power unit

By Glenn Sands | June 8, 2022

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 42 seconds.

Tier 1 Engineering has achieved the first flight of an all-electric Robinson R44 with a magniX electric propulsion unit (EPU).

Tier 1 Engineering Achieves Successful First Flight of Robinson 44 Helicopter with magniX Electric Propulsion Unit

The aircraft — N3115T — took to the air at 8 a.m. on June 4 at the Los Alamitos Army Airfield, California, and the flight lasted just over three minutes.

While it’s not the first flight of an electrically-powered R44 — Tier 1 Engineering completed that back in 2016 — it’s the first in the partnership between Santa-Ana, California-based Tier 1 and magniX.

“This historic flight of an all-electric helicopter with a certifiable electric engine was an important step towards obtaining aircraft certification,” said Glen Dromgoole, president of Tier 1 Engineering. “We are excited to expand the flight tests to greater distances and demonstrate safe reliable all-electric flight.”

Tier 1 is developing the all-electric Robinson R44 for Lung Biotechnology PBC, a company that is pioneering techniques to restore damaged lungs to a state suitable for transplantation. It intends to acquire a fleet of the helicopters and will use them to provide urgent hospital-to-hospital transportation for time-critical transplant operations.  

“magniX has been powering all-electric aircraft since December 2019, and this flight represents another first for the company as we have now electrified a rotary aircraft,” said Nuno Taborda, magniX’s CEO.

“This landmark event demonstrates yet again magniX’s commitments to lead the electrification of aviation by designing and delivering industry-leading products through smart innovation and customer-centricity. This is a significant achievement that will lead to the sustainable delivery of life-saving organs.”

Tier 1 Engineering is in discussions with the FAA aircraft certification office in Los Angeles to acquired a supplemental type certificate for the e-R44 program.

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