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Fri, Dec 10, 2010

Eurocopter X3 Hybrid Helicopter Hits 180 Kts

Step 1 Speed Objective Attained Ahead Of Schedule

Eurocopter’s X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter demonstrator, which first flew September 6, 2010, has reached the program’s Step 1 speed objective ... attaining a true airspeed of 180 kts in level flight at a reduced level of engine power. The flight occurred at the DGA Flight Test base in Istres, France November 29th.

Eurocopter Photo

In the flight testing performed thus far, the flight envelope has been opened both with and without autopilot to validate the basic hybrid demonstrator aircraft’s stability and handling characteristics. The X3 has reached an altitude of 12,500 feet and performed maneuvers with left
and right turns at bank angles of up to 60 degrees.

The X3 flights to date were performed by Eurocopter test pilot Hervé Jammayrac and flight test engineer Daniel Semioli at the French DGA test facility in Istres. “The X3 has performed extremely well, demonstrating handling and flight qualities that are exactly in line with our ground-based simulator evaluations,” Jammayrac said. “This helicopter is really built for speed, and our test team looks forward to taking the X3 to the next steps of its flight regime.”

Having already surpassed the speed of a traditional helicopter, the next milestone for the demonstrator is the Step 2 phase at Eurocopter’s headquarters in Marignane, France, where the X3 will enter a second set of flight tests during which it is expected to reach sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 kts.

Eurocopter Photo

The X3 utilizes a Eurocopter Dauphin helicopter airframe. It is equipped with two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system, along with two propellers installed on shortspan fixed wings. This hybrid configuration creates an advanced transportation system that offers the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter. It is tailored to applications where operational costs, flight duration and mission success depend directly on the maximum cruising speed.

The X3 combines excellent vertical takeoff and landing capabilities with fast cruise speeds of more than 220 kts. Eurocopter envisions a wide range of applications for this concept, including long-distance search and rescue (SAR) missions, coast guard duties, border patrol missions, passenger transportation and inter-city shuttle services. It could also be well-tailored for military missions in Special Forces’ operations, troop transportation, combat SAR and medical evacuation.



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