Airbus Helicopters’ retired X3 compound helicopter demonstrator entered the Air and Space museum at Paris Le Bourget Airport today. The airframe had reached its life limit, as it was previously a prototype AS365 Dauphin used for high-speed evaluations before it was fitted with two side-mounted propellers and a modified tail in 2010 to become the X3. The X3 set an unofficial speed record of 255 knots a year ago, but no follow-on program has since been announced by Airbus Helicopters.
Eurocopter announced today that its X3 compound helicopter demonstrator flew at 255 knots in level flight on Friday near Istres in southeast France. Also part of the unofficial speed record was a descent at 263 knots. These speeds are just a few knots higher than those the Sikorsky X2 semi-compound demonstrator attained in 2010.
Eurocopter is currently working on three “X” projects–the X indicating they are more or less secret–to replace the Dauphin and Super Puma and an undetermined model. Meanwhile, the EC175 program has slipped a bit more to the right.
Fourteen European aerospace companies, including Eurocopter and Dassault, have signed a letter supporting the proposed “Clean Sky 2” Joint Technology Initiative (JTI). The seven-year, €3.6 billion ($4.8 billion) program is a follow-on to the current Clean Sky JTI funded by the EU and the industry.
Eurocopter’s X3 compound helicopter prototype began its U.S. demonstration tour at the company’s Grand Prairie, Texas campus yesterday. The X3 first flew in 2010 and can reach speeds in excess of 230 knots. Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling said the company is “well positioned to bring this type of helicopter to market in the next 10 years.”
The Eurocopter X3 (“X cube”) compound helicopter demonstrator is to appear for the first time in public next week at the Paris Air Show. Jean-Michel Billig, the company’s executive v-p for research and development, promised late last month that F-ZXXX will impress showgoers with its maneuverability, just like the military Tiger wowed them in the 1990s when it began performing loops.