• +1-703-684-6777
  • info@evtol.news

Sikorsky HEX Helicopter (concept design)

Sikorsky Aircraft's Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX) autonomous passenger concept design helicopter

 

HEX Helicopter (concept design)
Sikorsky
Stratford, Connecticut, USA
www.lockheedmartin.com/sikorsky

Founded on March 5, 1923, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is an American aircraft manufacturer based in Stratford, Connecticut, USA. Sikorsky 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. (Image credit: Sikorsky)

March 2023 announcement of HEX aircraft
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.

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 Director 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.

February 2024 HEX hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft concept designs revealed
On February 24 at Heli-Expo 2024 in Anaheim, California, USA, Sikorsky revealed three concept designs for their Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX) autonomous passenger VTOL aircraft program. The aircraft will not have an option to be piloted manually. The aircraft will have a turboshaft engine with a one-megawatt class generator and associated power electronics developed by GE and flight and motor controls under Sikorsky's Matrix autonomy management system program.

HEX autonomous passenger hybrid-electric VTOL helicopter concept design
The HEX helicopter is an autonomous passenger hybrid-electric VTOL helicopter concept design. While very few specifications of the helicopter have been revealed, we do know the rotorcraft is expected to be fully autonomous and will not be able to be flown manually by a pilot inside the cockpit.

The helicopter has one five-bladed main rotorblade, one four-bladed tail rotor and most likely has two electric motors and one would power the main rotorblade and the other electric motor would power the tailrotor. The helicopter can be used for intercity travel, intracity travel, rural travel, ship-to-shore missions and flying to remote locations. The fuselage is made from carbon fiber composite for a high strength to low weight ratio. The rotorcraft has retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear.

There are redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft providing safety through redundancy for its passengers or cargo. Having multiple redundant systems on any aircraft decreases having any single point of failure. The company predicts this aircraft architecture will provide a quieter flight experience, save on production and operating costs, provide sustainable flight, reduce mechanical complexity and improve flight safety.

Future
Sikorsky reported they have already successfully flown sub-scale proof of concept VTOL aircraft. The company intends to fly the HEX technology demonstrator in 2027, depending on propulsion system test bed (PSTB) lessons learned. The company foresees their next-gen family of hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft to be used for advanced air mobility (AAM), air cargo and UAS (unmanned air systems) for commercial and military applications.

Sikorsky revealed three concept designs for their Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX) autonomous passenger VTOL aircraft program on February 24 at Heli-Expo 2024 in Anaheim, California, USA

Sikorsky revealed three concept designs for their Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX) autonomous passenger VTOL aircraft program on February 24 at Heli-Expo 2024 in Anaheim, California, USA

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Autonomous hybrid-electric passenger VTOL helicopter concept design
  • Piloting: Autonomous
  • Capacity: Unknown
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Rotorblades: 1 five-bladed main rotorblade, 1 four-bladed tail rotor
  • Electric motors: 2 electric motors
  • Power source: Hybrid-electric power source
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Window: Typical helicopter windows
  • Landing gear: Retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear
  • Safety features: In case of a power failure, the helicopter can an autorotate to safely land the helicopter. There are redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft providing safety through redundancy for its passengers or cargo. Having multiple redundant systems on any aircraft decreases having any single point of failure.

Related Aircraft:

Company Insights:

Resources: