But No Peeking Until Next Week At AirVenture
Sikorsky Innovations announced
Monday from the Farnborough International Air Show that it has
developed an all-electric helicopter technology demonstrator. The
Firefly Technology Demonstration Aircraft will be unveiled on July
26 at the EAA AirVenture exhibition in Oshkosh as part of the world
symposium on electric aircraft. The demonstrator will be one of the
main attractions in the Aviation Learning Center along with other
state-of-the-art commercially available and prototype electric
"Our objectives with Project Firefly are to provide a proof of
principle concept to validate the benefits of an electrically
powered rotorcraft; to develop the technologies to enable the
manned flight of that technology, and to drive future development
of improved, state-of-the-art 'green' technologies and practices,"
said Chris Van Buiten, Director of Sikorsky Innovations.
In building the demonstrator, the Innovations team replaced the
legacy propulsion system of an S-300C helicopter with a
high-efficiency electric motor and digital controller from U.S.
Hybrid, coupled with a lithium ion energy storage system from Gaia.
Integrated sensors provide real-time aircraft health information to
the pilot through a panel integrated interactive LCD monitor. Eagle
Aviation Technologies, LLC, executed the custom airframe
modifications and assembly of the demonstrator aircraft.
"World fuel reserves are continuing
to dwindle as demand increases. This inversion of the supply/demand
cycle will increase operating costs of all fuel-based vehicles,
especially in the aviation industry. Nowhere is this more apparent
than in the commercial helicopter market, where the critical role
rotorcraft play could be threatened by spiraling fuel costs," said
Mark Miller, Vice President, Sikorsky Research &
"Many of the most significant advancements in aviation have been
enabled by transformations in propulsion technology. It is exciting
to be at the forefront of the exploration of electric propulsion
technology for rotorcraft," said Miller. "Through the electrical
conversion, propulsion efficiency of the aircraft has been
increased roughly 300 percent from baseline. Electric propulsion
also inherently simplifies the complexity of the propulsion system
by reducing the quantity of moving parts, increasing reliability
while reducing direct operating costs."
The demonstrator will feature a 200 horsepower electric motor, a
motor controller, a battery system, and cockpit controls. First
flight is anticipated later this year, upon completion of ground
tests and safety of flight reviews in accordance with Sikorsky
standard practice for all aircraft programs.
"With current energy storage technology, payload and endurance
will fall short of typical helicopter performance. These values
will grow as rapidly maturing technology is integrated on the
demonstrator," Miller added.
We'll get pictures.