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Business Air News Bulletin
Business Air News Bulletin
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Sikorsky looks to future family of VTOL systems
The OEM is building a hybrid-electric demonstrator that will test electrification and autonomy for next-gen products.
Autonomy and electrification will be foundational technologies for Sikorsky next generation VTOL aircraft.
Read this story in our March 2024 printed issue.

Sikorsky has unveiled its plan to build, test and fly a hybrid-electric vertical take off and landing demonstrator (HEX/VTOL) with a tilt-wing configuration.

The design is the first in a series of large, next generation VTOL aircraft, ranging from more traditional helicopters to winged configurations, that will feature varying degrees of electrification and an advanced autonomy system for optionally piloted flight.

“We never stop innovating at Sikorsky,” says president Paul Lemmo. “Autonomy and electrification will bring transformational change to flight safety and operational efficiency of large VTOL aircraft. Our HEX demonstrator programme will provide valuable insights as we look to a future family of aircraft built to the scale and preferred configurations relevant to commercial and military customers.”

The HEX programme will put a premium on greater than 500nm range at high speed, fewer mechanical systems to reduce complexity and lower maintenance costs.

Sikorsky Innovations, the company’s prototyping group, and GE Aerospace are finalising designs to build a hybrid-electric power systems testbed with a 600kW electric motor. The testbed is a first step to evaluate hover performance of the follow-on HEX demonstrator, a 9,000lb maximum gross weight aircraft with 1.2MW-class turbogenerator and associated power electronics.

“Within Sikorsky’s electric pillar, we are designing electric motors, power electronics and our own vehicle management hardware and actuation,” says Sikorsky Innovations director Igor Cherepinsky. “HEX will integrate these components, showcase the growing maturity of our MATRIX autonomy suite and the potential for maintenance-free systems. Seeing the results will lead us to more efficient overall designs.”

Sikorsky Innovations was formed in 2010 to overcome technological challenges to rotary wing speed, autonomy and intelligence.

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