The World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Helicopter Could Hit Skies Next Year

Piasecki Aircraft Corp. is adding a fuel cell to a small, two-seat rotorcraft to create the world’s first helicopter to run on hydrogen.

By Michael Verdon 20/04/2022

Piasecki Aircraft Corp. (PIAC) and edm aerotec have signed an agreement to develop the world’s first hydrogen-powered helicopter. Based in Pennsylvania, PIAC has a long history of designing experimental aircraft for civil and military applications.

CEO John Piasecki told a recent symposium at the Vertical Flight Society that his company would be performing the world’s first human-carrying flight tests aboard edm aerotec’s CoAX-2D helicopter. The hydrogen-powered CoAX-2D would use an 80-kW HyPoint high-temperature proton-exchange membrane (HTPEM) fuel cell, according to

Germany-based edm aerotec has certified its CoAX-2D as a Light Sport Aircraft under the German airworthiness authority. The two companies are collaborating to bring the CoAX-2D to the US market. Edm aerotec CEO Anja Ernst said the two companies would continue to develop the helicopter independently, but would also work together.  “Both partners can continue to develop and complement their know-how—this is the perfect prerequisite for future developments,” he said.


Piasecki 890 is designed as an EVTOL

Piasecki has been working on its own PA-890 helicopter with a hydrogen fuel cell. It said the first test flights should happen next year. Courtesy PIAD

PIAC has procured two CoAX-2D helicopters for engineering and flight evaluations to support its research. According to PIAC, the hydrogen version of the CoAX-2D will consist of a battery, hydrogen tank, power inverter, electric motor, computer controller, four cooling fans and an oxygen tank. Piasecki did not announce a timeline but said the hydrogen version of the CoAX-2D would be flying before its own PA-890 helicopter.

PIAC has been working on its own PA-890 using the HTPEM fuel cell. The company said that helicopter is scheduled to make its first flight in 2023. Piasecki says the hydrogen fuel cell could reduce operating costs by 50 per cent compared to conventional helicopters, while creating twice the power of a standard, lithium-ion battery system used in conventional electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Because of its complexity, hydrogen power has been limited to a few aircraft, including ZeroAvia, which completed a hydrogen-electric passenger flight on a modified Pipe M-Class aircraft. California-based HyPoint, which also signed a development agreement with ZeroAvia, says its fuel-cell system is more efficient than existing lithium-ion batteries and other hydrogen systems on the market.


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Embraer Is Testing Self-Flying eVTOLs Over Rio de Janeiro

The tech will lead to air taxis flying themselves as part of urban transport.

By Michael Verdon


The First Electric Aeroplane That You Can Fast-Charge Is Coming

Diamond Aircraft’s eDA40 can be recharged in about 20 minutes.

By J. George Gorant


The First Flying-Car Airport Opens In The UK

But you can’t take off just yet.

By Tori Latham


Furniture Maker RH Has Designed Sleek Private Jets And A Yacht You Can Charter

The upscale home-furnishings company is bringing a trained design eye to both often-overlooked interiors.

By Helena Madden


Inside The First All-Private Space Mission To The International Space Station

The Ax-1 crew is scheduled to splash down after conducting scientific research aboard the International Space Station for nearly two weeks.

By Michael Verdon


Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected