The world's first hydrogen-powered helicopter has been designed, and it could be in the skies by 2025.
Piasecki Aircraft Corp. partnered up with HyPoint to develop the electric helicopter that aims to make its first flight in 2023. The firm said it plans to develop the Piasecki eVTOL PA-890 using HyPoint's hydrogen fuel-cell system.
"Initial lab testing funded by Piasecki last winter demonstrated the technical viability of HyPoint's hydrogen fuel-cell system," said CEO John Piasecki, noting it would be the first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter.
"Success will pave the way for collaboration with other eVTOL OEMs with different platform sizes to ensure broad applications of this technology."
The relationship between the two companies is being minted with a $6.5 million multiphase development agreement for the design and certification of hydrogen fuel cell systems.
Through the partnership, HyPoint aims to deliver five full-scale, 650 kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell systems for ground testing, demo flights and the certification process. The goal is to create a system that has four times the energy density of existing lithium-ion batteries, double the specific power of existing hydrogen fuel cell systems, and that costs up to 50 per cent less relative to the operative costs of turbine-powered rotorcraft. HyPoint unveiled a prototype of the new technology in March.
Through the deal, Piasecki will have exclusive license to the tech created as a result of the partnership. It aims to use the technology for use in its PA-890 manned helicopter, which it says would be the first hydrogen-powered helicopter on the market.
HyPoint will maintain exclusive ownership of the fuel cell system. The two companies said in a statement that they intend to make the system available to other eVTOL makers as well.