The first public uncrewed flight of Rotor’s R220Y helicopter took place yesterday (January 30) Nashua (New Hampshire) Airport (KASH). Rotor’s prototype aircraft fly with Cloudpilot, which the manufacturer describes as technology for autonomous flight using satellite and wireless connectivity.

The new Rotor Research & Development Center is located adjacent to the airport on the former campus of Daniel Webster College. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu was the guest of honor for the celebration, telling attendees, “New Hampshire has long been known for our innovative spirit, and today, a new era of aviation was ushered in right here in the Granite State. This is an exciting moment for the future of American-made aircraft!”

Festivities also included the ceremonial naming of Rotor’s R550X prototype, “The Spirit of New Hampshire.” It is based on the four-seat Robinson R44. The R220Y is based on the two-seat Robinson R22. Both Rotor aircraft incorporate remote technology aimed at pilotless flight. Anticipated applications include potentially hazardous missions such as firefighting and agricultural application.

The R220Y took off around 2:30 pm Tuesday, with about 100 people in attendance, including the Governor. The demonstration flight included the full startup procedure, hovering in front of the crowd, turning maneuvers, and a descent to landing. Total flight time was approximately three minutes, according to Rotor statement. Rotor CEO Hector Xu, said, “Rotor has brought scores of high-tech jobs to New Hampshire from across the United States and intends to add new manufacturing, quality control, sales, and engineering support departments to support the R550X program.”

The R550X is designed to lift a payload of up to 1,212 lbs. It has a flight endurance of more than three hours and a top speed of 15 mph, making it an ideal platform for aerial firefighting, agricultural application, and cargo delivery, according to Rotor.

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