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Piasecki HAXEL (technology demonstrator)

edm aerotec GmbH's CoAX-2D coaxial helicopter that Piasecki will convert to a H2 hybrid-electric demonstrator


Piasecki HAXEL (technology demonstrator)
Piasecki Aircraft Corporation
Essington, Pennsylvania, USA

Piasecki Aircraft Corporation was founded by Frank Piasecki in 1955 in Pennsylvania, USA. The company's origin dates back to 1936 with the P-V Engineering Forum and with a name change from the P-V Engineering Forum in 1946 to the Piasecki Helicopter Corporation. After a disagreements with other owners, Frank Piasecki and some of his design team left Piasecki Helicopter Corporation and formed the Piasecki Aircraft Corporation in 1955.

Today, the company is in the research and development business specializing in design, fabrication and flight testing of experimental rotorcraft and unmanned air vehicles. Piasecki's expertise lies in rapid prototyping and developing ground-breaking technologies resulting in aircraft design, development, qualification and flight testing. The company maintains an AS9100 certified quality system.

Here is a partial list of some of the helicopters and VTOL aircraft Piasecki designed, manufactured and have flown.

  • PV-1 (Helicopter demonstrator, 1 main rotorblade, fan in tail cone
  • PV-2 (Second successful flying helicopter in the USA, one main rotorblade, one tail canyon)
  • XHRP-X Dogship (World's first tandem helicopter)
  • XHJP-1 (First overlapped tandem helicopter)
  • HRP-1 (World's first transport helicopter in production)
  • YH-16 (World's largest helicopter, 1953)
  • PH-26 (This helicopter led to the development to the CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-47 Chinook helicopters)
  • H-25, HUP-1, HUP-2, XHRP-1, YH-21, H-21A Workhorse, HRP-2, H-21B, H-21C (Tandem helicopters)
  • PA-59k, PA59N, PA-59H (Flying platform or Jeep)
  • PA4 Sea Bat (First drone, USA)
  • PA-2C Ring-Wing (First VTOL concept aircraft)
  • 16H-1 Pathfinder (First shaft driven compound helicopter)
  • 16H-1A Pathfinder II, 16H-3F, 16H-3J, MLR, AH-1, AH-64 VTCAD, AH-64 VTDP, AH-1 VTCAD, 4BW VTDP, H-60 VTDP, JHL,  (Compound helicopters)
  • PA-39-54E (Heavy-lift helicopter)
  • SH-2D/RT (Helicopter)
  • STAMP (Platform or drone?)
  • PA-97-34J (Heavy vertical airlifter, dirigible airship)
  • W-3A Sokol (Helicopter)
  • Sea Spy, Air Guard, Air Scout, Drexel (VTOL UAV)
  • ARES, OVX (VTOL aircraft)

On March 29, 2022 Piasecki Aircraft Corp. announced it had signed an exclusive license for two edm aerotec GmbH's CoAX-2D two-seat coaxial helicopters to have exclusive rights to produce, sell and support the CoAX-2D in North America, and provide a collaborative framework for further research and development. As part of the collaboration, Piasecki will conduct a market and technical feasibility assessment to determine the best path forward to obtain FAA certification.

At the 1st H2-Aero Symposium & Workshop — held on March 29-30, 2022 by the Vertical Flight Society in Long Beach, California — Piasecki CEO John Piasecki provided details on its PA-890 hydrogen fuel cell-powered slowed-rotor winged compound helicopter. 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 helicopter as the testbed. The name of the hydrogen-powered coaxial helicopter demonstrator is the HAXEL. The HAXEL acronym was made from the words, Hydrogen coAXial Electric Lift.

Piasecki will convert at least one CoAX-2D piston-engine powered coaxial helicopter into a hybrid-electric helicopter. The power train will consist of hydrogen fuel cells, a battery, computers, electronics, one electric motor, coaxial rotorblades and other systems to power and fly the helicopter. The helicopter's power source will use an 80-kW high-temperature proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell.

HAXEL passenger hybrid-electric helicopter technology demonstrator
The HAXEL is a two passenger technology demonstrator hybrid-electric helicopter technology demonstrator. As of March 2022, details as to the estimated cruise speed, range, flight time and payload weight has not been provided by Piasecki. However, the company has indicated that this type of hybrid-electric helicopter will have zero emissions and provide an operator with a 50% drop in operating costs compared to a helicopter with a petroleum-fueled engine.

The helicopter has two counter-rotating, two-bladed composite rotors with a diameter of 21.3 ft (6.5 m). Because the helicopter has coaxial rotorblades, there is no need for a tail rotor. The rotorblades are placed one on top of the other and rotate in opposite directions which cancel the torque created by a helicopter with its main rotorblades.

The advantages of coaxial rotorblades are many. A coaxial helicopter typically has more lifting power than other helicopters of its same size because you have two main rotorblades instead of one main rotorblade. The safety of the helicopter for the pilot, passengers and ground crew increases greatly because there no possibility of anyone being hit bay a dangerous tail rotor since coaxial helicopters have no tail rotors.

The helicopter's main frame is metal riveted construction and the cabin, tail and the rotorblades are made of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer composite material. The fixed skid landing gear, which is typical of helicopters, is possibly a light weight metal but the type of metal used for the landing skids is not available on edm aerotec's website.

According to Piasecki, the potential markets for the HAXEL helicopter includes training, personal transport, utility inspection and any other type of mission requiring an affordable two-person helicopter. With advances in Simplified Vehicle Operation (SVO), Piasecki sees potential growth in vertical lift mobility for both personal and commercial applications. The company has not officially stated the time frame when the projected first flight of this hybrid-electric hydrogen-powered helicopter will take place but a piece of company literature predicts the first flight is expected to take place in the fall of 2022.

Piasecki's hydrogen hybrid-electric helicopter demonstrator schematic

Piasecki's hydrogen hybrid-electric helicopter demonstrator schematic


  • Aircraft type: Passenger hybrid-electric helicopter technology demonstrator
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: 2 people (1 pilot and 1 passenger)
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Range: Unknown
  • Flight Time: Unknown
  • Rotorblades: Coaxial rotorblades
  • Electric Motors: 1 electric motor
  • Power source: Hybrid-electric power source using hydrogen fuel cells
  • Fuselage: The main frame is metal and the cabin is made of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers
  • Windows: Wide and tall windows typically found in a helicopter
  • Tail: 1 tail with horizontal and vertical stabilizers
  • Landing gear: Fixed skid landing gear
  • Safety features: In case of complete power failure, the aircraft can land by autorotation.

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