Eurocopter unveiled a compound helicopter demonstrator called the X3 (“x cubed”) designed to cruise at 220 knots–about 50 percent faster than today’s medium twins. The helicopter manufacturer believes it has found a sweet spot at a target speed that should make time savings profitable, and the technology could be incorporated into helicopters in less than a decade.
The U.S. Army could issue a formal request for proposal (RFP) early next year for what could become a helicopter armed aerial scout (AAS) program. The AAS–which might encompass at least 300 helicopters–is a potential $5 billion bonanza for the winner and could have significant implications for civil helicopter manufacturers, not just in terms of revenue but also with regard to driving, or not driving, new technologies such as the Sikorsky X2.
The Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator last month unofficially set a new speed record for rotorcraft, as it reached 250 ktas at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The aircraft, which features contra-rotating coaxial main rotors and a pusher propeller, took off at 7 a.m. for its 17th flight, which lasted 1.1 hours. At the controls was chief test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck.
Eurocopter yesterday unveiled the X3 (“x cube”) demonstrator, a compound helicopter with a 220-knot cruise speed. The aircraft first flew on September 6 in hover, and is scheduled to fly again on Thursday. Some 100 flight-test hours are planned in the next 18 months, with the target speed expected to be reached in the first quarter.
FAA certification of the Rolls-Royce RR300-powered Robinson R66 turbine light single could come later this month.
The Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator unofficially set a new speed record for rotorcraft yesterday, as it reached 250 ktas at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla. At the controls was chief test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck. The 250-knot speed was the program’s main objective since launch in 2005, and was attained in level flight during a 1.1-hour sortie.
Bell 206L-3, Abilene, Texas, March 29, 2009–The NTSB determined the fatigue crack in the trailing edge of a main rotor blade was caused by interconnected porosity and resulting corrosion resulting from an undetected manufacturing defect. During a post-flight inspection following a flight in turbulence, the pilot noted the crack in the blade.
Sikorsky Aircraft announced the X2 project just over five years ago at the 2005 Paris Air Show. Now the one and only example of what the helicopter maker calls a “technology demonstrator” is poised to break the record as the world’s fastest rotorcraft as it works its way toward a target speed of 250 knots and further proof of concept.
Eurocopter’s research and development teams are working on several programs
to enhance cabin comfort by creating a smoother–and quieter–ride.
Among the solutions on the horizon is a five-blade main rotor for the EC155
and EC225, and a piezo-active rotor designated Blue Pulse.
The lobbying association for the French helicopter industry, the Union Française de l’Hélicoptère (UFH), is raising concerns about gestating noise rules that could practically ban commercial flights from urban areas. The association fears legislators are writing such a rule with input only from heli- port neighbors, some of whom are members of anti-helicopter associations.