Sikorsky X2 Races Toward Helo Speed Record
Sikorsky Aircraft’s X2 technology demonstrator achieved a forward speed of 181 knots on a test flight today at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The contra-rotating coaxial rotor prototype is designed to demonstrate that a helicopter can cruise at up to 250 knots while retaining excellent low-speed handling and efficient hovering characteristics, as well as a seamless and simple transition to high speed. “The X2 technology demonstrator today exceeded average conventional helicopter speeds, generally 160 to 170 knots,” said Sikorsky advanced programs manager Jim Kagdis. “The demonstrator is proving out the technologies well, from the active vibration control system to the fly-by-wire controls. There are no showstoppers here so far.” Power for the X2 comes from a single LHTec–Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company, a Rolls-Royce and Honeywell partnership–T800 turboshaft engine rated at up to 1,680 shp. The T800 drives the twin four-blade Eagle Aviation contra-rotating main rotors and the Aero Composites six-blade pusher propeller mounted at the end of the tailboom. For it to claim the fastest helicopter speed record, the X2 will have to exceed the 216.5 knots a Westland Lynx clocked in August 1986.