Eurocopter’s Latest X-Project To Replace Dauphin
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling yesterday set the bar high for the X4, the company’s next-generation medium twin that is billed as a replacement for the AS365 Dauphin/EC155. He promised the X4 will be “a game changer,” offering “a new way of flying.” The cockpit will be different from that of today’s helicopters, Eurocopter said. AIN understands fly-by-wire controls might be among the X4’s distinguishing features. Compared with the Dauphin, the X4 will have “increased payload and enhanced performance” and be “safer and more environmentally friendly,” according to Eurocopter. The company already has several partners for the program�engine maker Turbomeca, avionics specialist Thales and aerostructures firm Daher. Official launch, once planned for the first half of last year, is now expected this year. The manufacturer has applied for research and technology financial support from the French government. The level of innovation in the aircraft will depend on the amount of financing provided by the French government. An acceptable “technology readiness level” may thus be two (concept studies), rather than the usual five to six (rig tested), according to Eurocopter.