HyPoint strikes $6.5m deal for world’s first manned hydrogen helicopter

Fuel cell developer HyPoint announced a $6.5m deal with unmanned systems and rotorcraft manufacturer Piasecki Aircraft to work on its eVTOL PA-890 helicopter.

The $6.5m agreement will see the development of five 650kW hydrogen fuel cell systems for use in the PA-890 Compound Helicopter, which is expected to be the world’s first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter. It’s aircraft is expected to enter commercial service in 2025.

HyPoint said the system will offer eVTOL makers four times the energy density of existing lithium-ion batteries; twice the specific power of existing hydrogen fuel cell systems; and up to a 50% reduction in direct operating costs relative to turbine-powered rotorcraft.

Dr. Alex Ivanenko, founder and CEO of HyPoint said: This new strategic partnership will accelerate delivery timelines by equipping eVTOL manufacturers with next-generation hydrogen fuel cell systems that meet their unique needs. Together, HyPoint and Piasecki will work to grow the emerging eVTOL market by delivering a certified multiplatform solution for eVTOL makers.”

Piasecki and HyPoint intend to make the new system available to eVTOL makers by customising it for use in their vehicles. Piasecki will gain exclusive license to the technology, while HyPoint will maintain ownership.

Piasecki is currently working with the FAA to outline certification criteria, as well as with the United States Air Force, by way of its AFWERX STTR/SBIR programme.

John Piasecki, President and CEO of Piasecki, said: “Initial lab testing funded by Piasecki last winter demonstrated the technical viability of HyPoint’s hydrogen fuel cell system. Our objective is to develop full-scale systems within two years to support on-aircraft certification testing in 2024 and fulfill existing customer orders for up to 325 units starting in 2025.”

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