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Electric R44 Completes First Airport-to-airport Flight

A fully electric-powered Robinson R44 helicopter made a historic first flight between two airports.

Electric R44 Completes First Airport-to-airport Flight

A fully electric-powered Robinson R44 helicopter made a historic first flight between two airports. The 21-nm flight from Thermal, California’s Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport to Palm Springs International Airport took place on Saturday at 11 a.m. local time. Ric Webb, the CEO of OC Helicopters, and Martine Rothblatt, the CEO of Lung Biotechnology’s parent company United Therapeutics, piloted the electric R44 aircraft.

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The electric R44 project is a joint effort between Tier 1 Engineering and Lung Biotechnology. Following the delivery of transplantable organs by electric and sustainable fuel-powered fixed-wing aircraft to airports near hospitals, the plan is to use electric-powered helicopters and eVTOLs for short-distance flights from airports to hospitals.

The e-R44 utilizes a novel quick-swap technology for its helicopter battery packs, allowing for return trips without the need for a recharge. A battery pack swap takes 15 minutes, whereas a full recharge takes 1 hour. The cross-country route for today’s historic flight was determined by FAA approval.

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Lung Biotechnology is dedicated to providing transplantable organs with a zero-carbon footprint. It is entirely possible to save patients’ lives while also ensuring the survival of the planet. Today’s historic inter-city electric helicopter flight demonstrates that with today’s technology, many organ transport distances can be covered by electric aircraft.

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