Eurocopter X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter demonstrator unveiled at Istres
Eurocopter has begun test flights of the X3 demonstrator for its High-speed, long-range Hybrid Helicopter (H3) concept, which combines excellent vertical takeoff and landing capabilities with fast cruise speeds of more than 220 kts.
The X3 demonstrator is equipped with two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade mainrotor system and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings. This will offer the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter, says the company.
The X3 demonstrator’s first flight occurred September 6 in southern France at the Istres Flight Testing Center. Initial testing will continue through December with reduced power, progressively opening the flight envelope to speeds of approximately 180 kts. After a three-month upgrade, X3 flights will resume in March 2011 with the goal of reaching sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 kts.
A wide range of utilizations are envisaged for the H3 configuration, including long-distance search and rescue (SAR) missions, coast guard duties, border patrol missions, passenger transport and inter-city shuttle services. It also may be well-suited for military missions in special forces operations, troop transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation.