Eurocopter X3 Reaches Milestone
Eurocopter’s compound helicopter demonstrator, the X3 (x cube), met its first speed target–180 ktas in level flight at “reduced engine power,” the manufacturer announced last week. The aircraft features a conventional main rotor, two propellers on stub wings and no tail rotor. Flying from Istres in southern France, it reached 12,500 feet and performed maneuvers with left and right turns and bank angles of “up to 60 degrees.” Eurocopter said the flight envelope has been opened “with and without autopilot to validate stability and handling characteristics.” According to test pilot Hervé Jammayrac, handling and flying qualities are “exactly in line with ground-based simulator evaluations.” The X3 was unveiled publicly on September 27, three weeks after making its first flight. It will soon have its main gearbox upgraded for the second phase of flight-test, which aims to achieve a cruise speed of 220 knots. Design engineers have calculated that 220 knots is an economical sweet spot where speed is profitable.