Sikorsky To Build Technology Demonstrator

 - May 17, 2007, 7:40 AM

Sikorsky Aircraft yesterday disclosed at the American Helicopter Society International annual technical forum in Grapevine, Texas, plans to build and test a demonstrator for a new class of coaxial helicopters that will have improved vertical flight capabilities and will cruise at 250 knots. The Stratford, Conn. manufacturer said it will build and fly the X2 Technology demonstrator at its Schweizer Aircraft subsidiary in Elmira, N.Y., by the end of 2006. “Preliminary design work for the demonstrator is finished and parts fabrication for the aircraft has commenced,” the company said. Coaxial helicopters feature two contra-rotating rotors on the same vertical shaft. “We initiated X2 Technology convinced that the most productive and flexible helicopter is [one that] is capable of a significant increase in speed,” said Sikorsky President Stephen Finger. “Customers are demanding greater speed but without sacrificing any of the unique capabilities that make helicopters the ideal platform for countless civil and military missions.” The top cruise speed of helicopters in service today, roughly 150 to 170 knots, are only incrementally better than what they were decades ago due to the fundamental limits of conventional rotor systems. “Previous attempts to develop faster helicopters have resulted in degraded hover performance,” Sikorsky noted. “Likewise, attempts at fixed-wing or hybrid vertical-lift aircraft have resulted in aircraft with less hover capability than helicopters.”