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Sikorsky Aircraft Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX)

Sikorsky S-76B SARA with Matrix™ technology


Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX)
Sikorsky Aircraft
Stratford, Connecticut, USA

Founded on March 5, 1923, Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Company, is an American aircraft manufacturer based in Stratford, Connecticut, USA. Sikorsky Aircraft was established by aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky and was among the first companies in the world to manufacture helicopters for civilian and military use. United Technologies Corporation purchased Sikorsky in 1929 and then in November 2015, Sikorsky was sold to Lockheed Martin. (The above picture is of Sikorsky's modified S-76B SARA/MATRIX helicopter. Picture credit: Sikorsky.)

On March 8 at Heli-Expo 2023 (March 6-9, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA), Sikorsky announced the Sikorsky Innovations rapid prototyping group will design and make what they have named the Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX), a fully-autonomous passenger hybrid-electric aircraft technology demonstrator. Sikorsky has not revealed if the aircraft will be a hybrid-electric helicopter or if the aircraft will be a clean-sheet design airframe made specifically for advanced air mobility. The aircraft will use Sikorsky’s Matrix™ autonomy flight control system and Sikorsky will design, build and system integrate the aircraft. Sikorsky has developed and extensively tested the Matrix™ autonomy system over the last decade. A Sikorsky S-76B luxury helicopter was modified specifically to test and fine tune the Matrix™ technology autonomy system and the helicopter was called the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA).

The HEX technology demonstrator aircraft will be powered by a General Electric (GE) CT7 turboshaft engine with a 1 MW-class generator with associated power electronics. The range of the aircraft is expected to be over 575 miles (925 km) and have a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of more than 7,000 lb (3,175 kg). The autonomous system, how it is powered, the range and the MTOW are the only specifications revealed to the public during Heli-Expo 2023.

The MATRIX™ technology autonomy system is an aircraft autonomy system used for both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and is designed for flight safety, reliability and efficiency and includes the following abilities:

  • Executes complex missions in low altitude, obstacle-rich environments or in degraded, uncertain conditions
  • Improves system reliability through multi-level contingency management
  • Reduces lifecycle cost and operating cost per flight hour
  • Platform agnostic design supports multiple vehicles enabling mission tailoring

The Sikorsky Innovations rapid prototyping group will be in charge of the HEX helicopter technology demonstrator program and is headed by Igor Cherepinsky. The team will responsible to design, build and integrate the MATRIX™ autonomy flight control system into the hybrid-electric passenger aircraft. The prototype will be a flying testbed to evaluate large aircraft design, novel propulsion, control architectures for sustained hover and more.

Sikorsky envisions to create an entire family of scalable autonomous hybrid-electric aircraft for passenger and air cargo transportation missions. The company has also revealed they plan to make these aircraft for both civilian and military use. Sikorsky expects the uncrewed demonstrator HEX aircraft to fly by 2026 or 2027.


  • Aircraft type: Autonomous hybrid-electric VTOL passenger technology demonstrator
  • Piloting: Autonomous
  • Range: Over 575 miles (925 km)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 7,000 lb (3,175 kg)
  • Power source: GE Aerospace-supplied CT7 turboshaft engine with a 1MW-class generator

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