Sikorsky and GE to jointly develop hybrid-electric VTOL demonstrator
Sikorsky and GE Aerospace are producing a fully-autonomous hybrid-electric demonstrator (HEX) VTOL.
With a maximum gross weight of more than 7,000lbs (3,175kg), the uncrewed aircraft will serve as a flying test-bed to evaluate large aircraft design, novel propulsion systems and control architectures for sustained hover, and ranges greater than 500nm, said Sikorsky.
“As Sikorsky celebrates 100 years of flight innovations, it’s fitting to highlight our continued commitment to safe and sustainable transformative flight,” said Paul Lemmo, Sikorsky president. “Sikorsky’s HEX aircraft will provide critical insights into the possibilities of electric systems in VTOL aircraft. Ultimately, we want to show the potential of large, advanced air mobility vehicles to perform utility missions for the U.S. military and transport passengers between cities.”
For the HEX project, GE Aerospace will offer a CT7 turboshaft engine, 1MW-class generator and associated power electronics. The technology will build on hybrid electric propulsion systems being developed by GE for both NASA and the US military.
Amy Gowder, president and CEO, Defense & Systems, GE Aerospace, said: “Bringing innovative technology is a top priority for GE Aerospace. We are committed to developing hybrid electric propulsion systems that save fuel and optimise performance for the military and commercial applications. We are thrilled to build off our existing work with NASA and the Army to offer to power Sikorsky’s HEX aircraft and bolster the future of flight.”
Igor Cherepinsky, director, Sikorsky Innovations rapid prototyping group, and his team will design, build and integrate the HEX airframe and electric motors with the firm’s autonomy flight control system, known as Matrix.
Depending on insights learned from flight testing, the HEX programme could lead to a family of VTOL vehicles scaled to carry passengers and payload for both military and commercial applications, said Sikorsky.