Going electric could mean lighter and easier to control helicopters.
A team of Chinese engineers are working on an electric helicopter, according to the state-owned China News Service. The team is hoping that the use of electric motors could not only save fuel but make helicopters lighter and easier to control.
According to chief designer Deng Jinghui from the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, the team will first replace the tail rotor of a traditional helicopter with an electric motor for "exploring and verifying the technical feasibility of an all-electric helicopter."
If all goes well, the team will experiment with replacing the main engine and rotor as well.
By removing the need for a transmission — electric motors simply don't need one — flying a helicopter could become a lot easier.
"The removal of transmissions and the use of electric motors will help to reduce a helicopter's weight, streamline its structure, make control easier and also improve reliability," Deng said, as quoted by the China News Service.
It wouldn't be the first electric helicopter in existence. Connecticut-based aviation company Sikorsky Aircraft's Sikorsky Firefly all-electric helicopter has been referred to as the first of its kind when it was announced in 2010.
READ MORE: Electric helicopter research underway [ECSN.cn]
More on electric aircraft: We've Never Been This Close to Making Electric Flight a Reality
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