Sikorsky To Produce Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator


Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky has announced plans to produce a fully autonomous hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) prototype. According to the company, its Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX) will be used to evaluate “large aircraft design, novel propulsion systems and control architectures for sustained hover, and ranges greater than 500 nautical miles.” The prototype is expected to have a maximum gross weight of over 7,000 pounds.

“Sikorsky’s HEX aircraft will provide critical insights into the possibilities of electric systems in VTOL aircraft,” said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. “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.”

GE Aerospace will be providing a CT7 turboshaft engine, 1MW-class generator and associated power electronics for the HEX project. GE’s work on HEX is expected to build on hybrid electric propulsion systems it is developing for NASA and the U.S. Army. HEX will also include Sikorsky’s MATRIX autonomy flight control system, which the company demonstrated for the first time with a series of simulated logistics and rescue missions using an uncrewed Black Hawk helicopter in November 2022.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. So, despite all the hybrid hype it will use a CT7, the same engine as used in the Bell 214ST, to generate the energy required to operate the electrical portion of the aircraft. I personally see this experiment as a technological dead end.

    • Ahhh, but you missed the point. Technologically, I would agree. But if you properly use buzzwords like Green, Electric, Hybrid, etc in the correct context, the Feds will show up at your doors with truckloads of greenbacks. As my kid says, “Follow the money.”

      • Yup. E-anything is the keyword to bring the “Green Planet” folks bending down and worshiping at the alter of e-power.

  2. So despite all the hype Mr. Wright, you only flew a maximum of 852 feet before your toy stopped in the sand? I personally see this experiment as a technological dead end.

    So despite all the hype Mr. Sikorsky, you can only fly a handful of miles and can barely carry anything more than the pilot? I personally see this experiment as a technological dead end.

    So despite all the hype Captain Yeager, you only flew a handful of seconds, just a little bit above the speed of sound and then you ran out of fuel? I personally see this experiment as a technological dead end.

    So despite all the hype Mr. Allen, you’re new airplane has to stop in Canada before it can even fly across the Atlantic? I personally see this experiment as a technological dead end.

  3. I’m interested that Sikorsky is now involved in this. They are of course a legitimate manufacturer, unlike the countless little start ups we have been reading about.

    This can be because of one of two factors as I see it.

    1) There is some possibility in eVTOL making profitable a niche for itself in the future.
    2) There is government handout money to be collected.

    I honestly don’t know which it is now.

    I had disregarded the efforts of the little companies as motivated by ‘green’ dollars from handouts and gullible investors but Sikorsky is the real deal.

    Of course this is NOT an ‘e’ anything. It’s a CT7 turboshaft engine and a generator. Much like a diesel electric train, and I’m fine with that.

    As I have opined the fatal flaw in ‘e’ aviation (or anything for that matter) is NOT the motor but the batteries. Replace the batteries with a proper engine or an HFC and it can be made to work.

  4. Beyond the stated technology evaluations, the ultimately targeted use is suitably program-announcement vague.

    In the military-backed companion program(s) the intended use of hybrid VTOL seems to be primarily recon, with battery power allowing periods when the sustainer engine can be shut down for lower sound signature. This announcement doesn’t clarify whether or not battery power is even being incorporated, but if not, what is the point?

  5. No need.

    The US has adequate hydrocarbons yet to be tapped to last generations.

    Someday, in the distant future, long after we are a world leader in energy and energy independence, we will have built enough nuclear reactors to replace fossil fuels.