Sikorsky X2 nears flight-testing
Sikorsky is readying its X2 compound helicopter demonstrator for first flight in late 2007 or early 2008, the U.S. manufacturer announced here at the Paris Air Show. The hybrid design, which looks like a helicopter with two contrarotating coaxial main rotors and one tail propulsor, already had its fly-by-wire system tested in a small Schweizer 333 helicopter. The actual X2 has undergone engine and drive train ground tests.
According to Sikorsky, X2 technology should yield aircraft that retain helicopter capabilities while flying faster and longer. The manufacturer is talking about 250 knots and 500 nautical miles. To attain higher airspeeds, the aft propulsor provides forward thrust while the control system automatically slows down the main rotors to keep blade tips subsonic. Compared to a tiltrotor, the X2 will fly slower but does not need an in-flight reconfiguration.
Sikorsky emphasized that the demonstrator features several advanced technologies. For example, its main rotor blade provides more lift but without additional drag. Similarly, the rotor hub has been designed to have lower drag than other helicopters with contrarotating main rotor systems. An integrated propulsion system controls the way the main rotor and the propulsor share power. Finally, the X2 has active vibration control.
Here at the show, Sergei Sikorsky–Igor’s son–is presenting “Recollections of a pioneer” several times this week at the UTC/Sikorsky chalet. It includes a number of glimpses of the company founder’s career. Igor built the first four-engine air transport while working in Czarist Russia and then a series of flying boats after coming to the U.S. As a young man, in Kiev, he had tried to build a helicopter and failed. The first presentation took place on Monday, the second is planned for today at 2 p.m. and the final one is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m.