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Sikorsky initiates hybrid-electric VTOL demonstrator project.

| Defense News Aerospace 2024

On February 27, 2024, Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, unveiled its intention to develop a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) demonstrator with a tilt-wing configuration. This project is part of a broader initiative to create a new generation of VTOL aircraft, which will include traditional helicopters and winged configurations with varying levels of electrification and an advanced autonomy system for optionally piloted flight.
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Sikorsky initiates hybrid electric VTOL demonstrator project Sikorsky next generation VTOL aircraft (Picture source: Lockheed Martin)

Sikorsky's President, Paul Lemmo, highlighted the importance of continuous innovation in the fields of autonomy and electrification, aiming to enhance the safety and operational efficiency of large VTOL aircraft. The HEX program is set to explore these technologies, focusing on a range of over 500 nautical miles at high speed, reducing mechanical complexity, and lowering maintenance costs.

Sikorsky Innovations, the prototyping group within Sikorsky, in collaboration with GE Aerospace, is finalizing the design of a testbed for hybrid-electric propulsion systems equipped with a 600 kW electric motor. This testbed will be used to evaluate the hover performance of the future HEX demonstrator, which will be an aircraft with a maximum weight of 9,000 pounds, equipped with a 1.2 MW-class turbogenerator and associated power electronics.

Igor Cherepinsky, Director of Sikorsky Innovations, specified that the company is working on the development of electric motors, power electronics, and its own vehicle management hardware and actuation. The HEX project will integrate these technologies, highlight the evolution of the MATRIX™ autonomy suite, and explore the potential for systems requiring little to no maintenance, thus paving the way for more efficient designs.

Founded in 2010, Sikorsky Innovations has been dedicated to overcoming technological challenges related to the speed, autonomy, and intelligence of rotary-wing systems. With a new focus on electrification and automation, Sikorsky continues to push the boundaries of aviation, marking a step towards the development of more sustainable and efficient VTOL aerial systems.

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