HEX aircraft concept

‘Queen’ of helicopters, Sikorsky launches hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft

Company part of the Lockheed Martin group unveiled a plan to develop a demonstrator with a tilt-wing configuration

Traditional helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky has finally unveiled its plans for sustainable VTOL aircraft after a brief announcement last year.

The company, which belongs to Lockheed Martin, intends to build and test a demonstrator of the type that will have hybrid-electric propulsion and tilting wings with engines.

According to the company, the project is the first in a series of large VTOL aircraft, ranging from traditional helicopters to winged configurations.

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They will use electrified propulsion systems at various scales beyond the capability of autonomous or piloted flight.

“We never stop innovating at Sikorsky,” said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. “Autonomy and electrification will bring transformational change to flight operational safety and efficiency of large VTOL aircraft. Our HEX demonstrator program 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 work is being carried out by Sikorsky Innovations, responsible for prototyping at the company, which is finalizing designs for a test platform that uses a 600 kW electric motor. GE Aerospace serves as the company’s partner.

Eletrified VTOL aircraft concepts (Sikorsky)

Small-scale prototypes already flow

Called HEX, the aircraft is expected to have a maximum takeoff weight of 9,000 pounds (4,800 kg) and a range of more than 500 miles (more than 926 km).

The VTOL illustration shows an aircraft with a T-tail and large-diameter engines and propellers installed in the centers of the wings that rotate upward during takeoff and landing.

Another promotional image includes a model with the same configuration, but larger, and with four propellers. Finally, there is a conventional helicopter with a size similar to an S-76.

Sikorsky did not reveal passenger capacity or when it imagines the new sustainable aircraft could hit the market.

Small-scale prototypes, however, have already flown to prove the concept, the company acknowledged.


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