The Sikorsky Firefly – A 100% Electric Helicopter
Sikorsky have unveiled an all electric helicopter called Project Firefly at this years Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture 2010. The Firefly is a modified Schweizer S-300C, a light helicopter renowned for its reliability and safety and will feature twin onboard lithium-ion battery packs that will provide 15 minutes of flight at 92 miles per hour, not much but it’s just the first step in this direction. The Firefly weighs in at a relatively light 2,125 pounds and is currently set up a single seater format. The chopper won’t fly at the airshow but will be on display to the general public, Sikorsky has been working on the Firefly for just over 2 years and have said that the first test flight is still a few months off, citing test pilot safety as their primary concern.
Official Sikorsky Statements;
“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.
“The aviation industry is really fossil-fuel based up to this point, so we said to ourselves, `What can we start to do from an innovation standpoint to explore new power plants and new fuel alternatives?’ ” said Kagdis, who is the program manager for advanced programs. “All of this could have been done on a ground test rig, but we thought is was extremely important to put it on a flying aircraft.”
“Literally, it was a swap of engines,” said project manager Jonathan Hartman. “About the only other changes were the battery packs and a different motor mount. It looks, feels and flies like a regular helicopter.”
“This is a stepping stone to show us the commercial viability of an electric helicopter,” said Hartman. “It’s not a pipe dream, it’s just a matter of time before we get the energy density that we would need.”