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Rotor gives first public display of its autonomous R550X prototype helicopter

Rotor hosted guest of honour New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu in the first live flight test of its autonomous helicopters on January 30.

According to a company press release:

“The company-hosted event, which also included a tour of Rotor’s new Research & Development Center and a naming ceremony for Rotor’s R550X prototype, was attended by staff, their families, and invited VIPs. The live flight of the R220Y, an uncrewed R&D aircraft based on the Robinson R22 two-seat helicopter, took place at Nashua Airport at around 2:30pm ET on January 30, 2024, before a crowd of around 100 people.

Rotor is building the first two R550Xs at its facilities in Nashua, N.H. These aircraft are expected to begin agricultural flights later this year. The R550X is based on the Robinson R44 Raven II. It is designed to lift heavy loads up to 1,212 lbs, or 550 kg, with no pilot onboard. With a flight time of over three hours and a top speed of 150 miles per hour, the R550X offers long-range VTOL capabilities beyond the reach of drones and eVTOLs.

“The aircraft performed a full startup procedure, hovered in front of the audience, made turning maneuvers, and descended to land after around three minutes in the air. To the company’s knowledge, this historic flight is the first time that an uncrewed full-scale helicopter has ever flown publicly in front of a crowd. It marks an important milestone on Rotor’s path to operational readiness for commercial missions. The event highlighted the spirit of technological innovation in New Hampshire and included a tour of Rotor’s campus, located on the former campus of Daniel Webster College, a site steeped in aviation history.

“Rotor’s newly-renovated R&D Center serves as the backdrop to Rotor’s revitalization of the aviation industry in New Hampshire, buoyed by the recently-announced R550X commercial helicopter program and the beginning of flight operations from a new Remote Operation Center.

“The event concluded with the naming of Rotor’s R550X prototype, a static vehicle which will begin a tour of the US and Canada later this Spring.

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