Sikorsky Innovations unveiled at AirVenture 2010 its Firefly electric helicopter, an electrically powered S-300C that it expects will fly by the end of this year.

Sikorsky and partner companies - US Hybrid, Gaia Power Technologies and Eagle Aviation Technologies - replaced the 300C’s 200hp piston-powered Lycoming engine with an equivalent power electric engine from US Hybrid and replaced the fuel tanks with two 45Ah lithium ion battery packs built by Gaia, one on each side of the cabin. Eagle Aviation performed the modification work.

The technology demonstrator will initially have an endurance of 15 minutes with one pilot on board, says Jonathan Hartman, an engineer with Sikorsky’s advanced concepts group. Flights will likely be limited to the traffic pattern, he adds, after initial ground resonance and hover testing flights are completed. In the cockpit, Sikorsky says integrated sensors will provide real-time aircraft health information through a panel integrated interactive LCD monitor.

“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,” says Chris Van Buiten, director of Sikorsky Innovations.