Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit (Booth C1020) is getting into the eVTOL race in a big way. It announced plans on Tuesday to partner with GE to develop “HEX,” a fully-autonomous, hybrid-electric demonstrator eVTOL prototype. The company expects the uncrewed aircraft to fly by 2026 or 2027, have a maximum weight of more than 7,000 pounds, and a range of greater than 500 nm. The prototype would serve as a flying testbed to evaluate large aircraft design and novel propulsion and control architectures for sustained hover. Igor Cherepinsky, director of Sikorsky’s innovations and rapid prototyping group, will lead the project.
For HEX, GE will combine its CT7 turboshaft engine with a 1 MW-class generator and associated power electronics, building on hybrid propulsion systems it is already developing for NASA and the U.S. Army. The aircraft will use Sikorsky’s Matrix autonomy flight control system and Sikorsky will design, build, and system integrate the aircraft. The company envisions HEX spawning an entire family of eVTOLs scaled to carry passengers and payload for both the civil and military markets.
Sikorsky has developed and extensively tested Matrix over the last decade. During the U.S. Army’s Project Convergence 2022 exercise recently held in Yuma, Arizona, an uncrewed, Matrix-controlled Sikorsky Black Hawk successfully demonstrated optionally piloted supply missions.
“Sikorsky’s HEX aircraft will provide critical insights into the possibilities of electric systems in VTOL aircraft,” said Paul Lemmo, Sikorsky president. “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. As Sikorsky celebrates 100 years of flight innovations, it’s fitting to highlight our continued commitment to safe and sustainable transformative flight.”
“We are committed to developing hybrid electric propulsion systems that save fuel and optimize performance for the military and commercial applications,” said Amy Gowder, president and CEO of defense and systems, GE Aerospace.