HAI Convention News

Stucki Floats Hybrid Helicopter Design

 - March 9, 2022, 8:34 AM
Marenco is floating a hybrid-electric helicopter here in Dallas. The design includes a 1,000-shp turbine generator, electric motor-driven main and tail rotors, and backup battery pack. Photo: Mariano Rosales

Martin Stucki—the founder of Marenco Swisscopter and the creator of the SH09 helicopter—is back with a new hybrid-electric helicopter concept and looking for investors. Swisscopter is now the Kopter division of Leonardo and the helicopter that he first envisioned there, announced in 2011, remains under development as the rebadged AW09. Since leaving Swisscopter in 2016, Stucki has focused on operating his engineering company, Marenco AG (Booth 7411), which he founded in 1997.

Stucki’s new aircraft design is similar to the SH09 but features a longer, all-carbon-fiber fuselage with seating for up to nine plus the pilot. It is planned to be powered by a 1,000-shp turbine generator/engine that provides power to separate electric motors that drive the main and tail rotors, as well as charge a backup battery pack for emergency power for autorotations and high-altitude approaches. The design eliminates mechanical connections between the turbine and the main rotor, yielding a design that is simpler and safer, Stucki said. 

“A lot of things that could go wrong are eliminated, but it is otherwise a conventional helicopter. Any helicopter pilot can fly it, which makes it a lot different than these fancy eVTOLs that need flight-control software,” he said. Preliminary performance targets are three hours’ endurance and a fast cruise speed of 140 knots, he told AIN. Marenco’s new design is currently in the “conceptual and financing phase,” the company said. 

“If you do it the second time, you have a lot of know-how,” Stucki maintained. “It will be much easier.”

Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters' managing director, did not address potential similarities between the AW09 and Marenco's proposed design. However, he noted, "You have to bring the product to a certain level of maturity. It is a free market. Anyone can try."