Sikorsky Preps Electric Firefly Helo for First Flight

 - January 6, 2011, 11:25 AM

The Firefly, Sikorsky’s first foray into electric-powered helicopters, is getting closer to its maiden flight, although the company has not publicly released a precise schedule. The modified S-300C, in which the piston engine has been replaced with an electric motor, was exhibited at EAA AirVenture last July, with hopes to fly by the end of last year. This has been postponed and program manager Jonathan Hartman is now saying it will fly “as soon as we are ready.” The proof-of-concept rotorcraft is expected to have 15 minutes of endurance. Power output is the same as with the original 190-hp piston engine. Because of the heavy weight of the lithium-ion batteries, the empty weight is close to the 2,050-pound mtow. Nevertheless, Sikorsky expects the Firefly will have the same flight characteristics (including an 86-knot top speed) as the S-300C. Benefits include higher efficiency, less complexity and lower vibrations. An electric helicopter will be on the commercial market in years rather than decades, according to Hartman.