The 2012 Japan International Aerospace Exhibition held in Nagoya was decorated by all kinds of helicopters and airplane concepts. One of the concepts that caught the attention of many people was a mini electric helicopter touted by the developer to move at a surprisingly high speed. 100 km per hour!
The single-passenger silent helicopter is being developed by Hirobo Electric Corporation which is a Japanese RC model company. The corporation is well-known for its high-quality radio controlled helicopter models which are powered by glow fuel or electricity. According to the president of the helicopter manufacturer, the newly-introduced mini chopper will be electric powered. It is designed to provide a reliable means of transportation during disasters and emergencies.
Due to its quiet nature, the helicopter will help the pilot locate victims of disasters who are calling out for help. According to the developer, the chopper will completely change search and rescue missions. The manufacturer is also developing an unmanned model that will also be helpful in emergency situations. It will be used majorly to transport time-sensitive materials like food, blood and organs.
The helicopter’s predecessor was equipped with a gasoline engine consisting of a noisy motor and transmission system. As mentioned above, the manufacturer is using an electric engine with a silent motor for this mini chopper. Since it will be using a non-gasoline engine, the new air automobile will be eco-friendly means of transport that will hopefully be mass produced so that it is affordable enough for the general public to buy.
The mini electric airplane will be one of the smallest helicopters in the world. Hirobo is planning to develop larger, two-seater versions if the new model is absorbed well on the market.
Designed to travel at 62 mph, the chopper will also be one of the fastest helicopters in the world. This is one of the reasons why it will be suitable for search and rescue missions. Organizations that deal with emergencies and disasters will find the helicopter very reliable. The electric motor will fly the chopper for 30 minutes at a time, but it will cover a long distance because of its higher speed.
The single-passenger silent mini electric helicopter is likely to hit the market within 2 to 4 years. This delay is caused by legal issues between the manufacturer and government authorities. So the company is trying to iron out the legal issues before it embarks on production. There is a working prototype so we can assume that there is little to no technical issues which means that the production process will be a smooth one.
When it comes to price, the unmanned version will cost US$125,000 while the one-passenger version will cost US$375,000. The choppers are much cheaper compared to models from other helicopter manufacturers. The unmanned model could become the cheapest in the world. As the price figure shows, the manned helicopter is a bit expensive. It is expected to be owned by the rich & wealthy and bigger organizations with the necessary funds.
Hirobo believes that this helicopter technology will grow the value of the domestic market by a big margin in a decade’s time.