World's first hydrogen fuel cell helicopter under development

21 Apr 2022

The world’s first hydrogen-powered helicopter is being developed.

Expected to take its first test flights in Germany, but developed with an eye on the US-market, the CoAX-2D helicopter is powered by a 80-kW HyPoint high-temperature proton-exchange membrane hydrogen fuel cell.

It is being developed and tested as part of a co-operation between two companies, Piasecki Aircraft Corp (PIAC) and edm aerotec.

PIAC has experience working on electrified helicopters, having already developed a concept for a battery-electric machine, the PA-890, pictured here, which is billed as a EVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) Slowed Rotor Winged Compound aircraft. It is intended for a variety of uses, with its advantages highlighted as being its quieter operation and low running costs.

Now PIAC is working on two CoAX-2Ds for evaluation work, with kit required for the conversion including a battery, hydrogen tank, power inverter, electric motor, computer controller, four cooling fans and an oxygen tank.

It estimates that, if successfully developed, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered helicopter would cost half as much to operate compared to a conventional one, as well as creating twice the power of a lithium-ion battery powered equivalent, as are being used to develop many rival electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft

Commercial flights are tipped to begin in 2023.


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