Piasecki to Fly World's First Hydrogen Helicopter
Essington, Pennsylvania-based Piasecki Aircraft Corp. (PiAC) announced on March 29, 2022, that it had signed an exclusive license for edm aerotec GmbH's CoAX-2D two-seat coaxial helicopter. The cooperative development and license agreement with the edm aerotec — based in Geisleden, in Thuringia, Germany — extends to other fields of research and development (R&D).
edm aerotec developed and certified the CoAX-2D as a Light Sport Aircraft under the German airworthiness authority. The agreement provides PiAC exclusive rights to produce, sell and support the CoAX-2D in North America, and provides a collaborative framework for further research and development. “This is a great opportunity for both edm aerotec and PiAC. The two companies share a similar heritage and the partnership expands market and R&D opportunities for both companies,” stated PiAC President and CEO, John Piasecki. Anja Ernst, CEO edm aerotec, confirmed: “The cooperation with PiAC is a milestone for edm aerotec, since not only can the CoAX be established in America, but both partners can also continue to develop and complement their know-how — this is the perfect prerequisite for future developments.”
PiAC has procured two CoAX-2D helicopters for engineering and flight evaluations to support near-term research and development objectives. As part of the collaboration, PiAC will conduct a market and technical feasibility assessment to determine the best path forward to obtain FAA certification. Potential markets include training, personal transport, utility inspection, and other uses requiring an affordable two-person helicopter capability. With advances in Simplified Vehicle Operation (SVO), PiAC sees potential growth in access and utilization of vertical lift mobility for both personal and commercial applications.
At the 1st H2-Aero Symposium & Workshop — held by the Vertical Flight Society in Long Beach, California and online on March 29–30 — PiAC CEO John Piasecki provided details on its PA-890 hydrogen fuel cell-powered slowed-rotor winged compound helicopter, using HyPoint's high-temperature proton-exchange membrane (HTPEM) fuel cell. In addition, he revealed for the first time that the company would perform what will most likely be the world's first human-carrying hydrogen-powered helicopter flight test, using the edm aerotec CoAX-2D as the testbed. The hydrogen-powered CoAX-2D would use an 80-kW HyPoint HTPEM fuel cell.
Founded in 1955, Piasecki Aircraft is a pioneering research and development business specializing in design, fabrication and flight testing of experimental rotorcraft and unmanned air vehicles. Piasecki has been recognized with numerous awards, including the “National Medal of Technology,” the Smithsonian’s “Air and Space Achievement Award,” and the US Department of Defense “Tibbetts Award” for small business innovation. Piasecki has developed and flown more than 25 different advanced VTOL and uncrewed aircraft.
edm aerotec was founded in 2011 and is one of the leading developers and manufacturers of Ultra Light (UL) helicopters. The company has its origins in Dreiling Maschinenbau GmbH (with 130 employees) and has an accomplished history and experience in mechanical engineering. Thanks to vertically integrated state-of-the-art turning and milling centers, the company manufactures all components in-house. edm aerotec, which was spun off in 2011, manages the development and production of UL helicopters as well as the repair and assembly of machines and systems in a 2,400-m² (15,000-ft²) facility employing 30+ engineers and technicians.
The CoAX-2D has two counter-rotating, two-bladed composite rotors with a diameter of 21.3 ft (6.5 m), and weighs 625 lb (283 kg) empty, with a maximum gross takeoff weight of 992 lb (450 kg). It normally uses a 125-hp (93.2-kW) D-Motor International engine and has a maximum speed of 92 kt (170 km/h) and a cruise speed of 81 kt (150 km/h). D-Motor is a Belgian company founded in 2010; its six-cylinder 245 cubic inch (3993 cc) LF39 four-stroke side valve (flathead) boxer engine weights 170 lb (78 kg).