Kevin Bredenbeck, the pilot who flew Sikorsky’s X2 technology demonstrator last year to an unofficial speed record for conventional helicopters (reportedly 260 knots), has been recognized by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots with the Iven C. Kincheloe Award for the year’s outstanding professional accomplishment in flight testing.
Sikorsky’s X2 technology demonstrator, a high-speed semi-compound helicopter, flew for the last time on July 14 at the company’s West Palm Beach, Fla. test center, in front of a number of the manufacturer’s military and commercial customers. The sortie took place without the central hub fairing (also known as an “aero sail”), which will not be tested in flight.
Sikorsky flew its X2 technology demonstrator for the last time at its West Palm Beach, Fla. test center last week in front of some of the company’s military and commercial customers. Contrary to previously announced plans, the semi-compound helicopter, which features two contra-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller, flew without its central hub fairing.
They both deny it, but helicopter manufacturers Sikorsky and Eurocopter have clearly reignited the speed race between their respective semi-compound X2 and compound X3 demonstrators. The X2 will fly again this summer, this time with its full rotor hub fairing. Sikorsky officials last week said that the test will be oriented primarily toward understanding how the “aero sail” behaves in certain conditions.
Goodrich has been recognized for its role on the 2010 Robert J. Collier Trophy-winning Sikorsky X2 Technology demonstrator team. The company provided the SmartProbe air data systems and engine controls on the record-breaking aircraft.
Both the Sikorsky X2 and the Eurocopter X3 have propellers and both are targeting higher cruise speeds; however, their respective designers have not been working to the same principles.
The X2 is effectively a semi-compound helicopter, having contra-rotating main rotors and one aft propeller, while the X3 is a true compound with a single main rotor, wing stubs and two side-mounted propellers.
Eurocopter (Booth No. 4637) and Sikorsky (Booth No. 2737) have successfully demonstrated the feasibility of a high-speed compound helicopter, but using different configurations. Sikorsky’s X2 reached its target of 250 knots last September in West Palm Beach, Fla., and also met vibration and workload targets, according to the U.S. manufacturer.
Having achieved its target speed of 250 ktas in September, Sikorsky continues to flight-test the X2 demonstrator but at a slower pace. The U.S.-based manufacturer has also announced the first application of the technology will be military. The X2 is a compound helicopter featuring two contra-rotating coaxial main rotors and a pusher propeller.
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.