Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky has announced plans to produce a fully autonomous hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) prototype. According to the company, its Hybrid-Electric Demonstrator (HEX) will be used to evaluate “large aircraft design, novel propulsion systems and control architectures for sustained hover, and ranges greater than 500 nautical miles.” The prototype is expected to have a maximum gross weight of over 7,000 pounds.

“Sikorsky’s HEX aircraft will provide critical insights into the possibilities of electric systems in VTOL aircraft,” said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. “Ultimately, we want to show the potential of large, advanced air mobility vehicles to perform utility missions for the U.S. military and transport passengers between cities.”

GE Aerospace will be providing a CT7 turboshaft engine, 1MW-class generator and associated power electronics for the HEX project. GE’s work on HEX is expected to build on hybrid electric propulsion systems it is developing for NASA and the U.S. Army. HEX will also include Sikorsky’s MATRIX autonomy flight control system, which the company demonstrated for the first time with a series of simulated logistics and rescue missions using an uncrewed Black Hawk helicopter in November 2022.

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