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First flight for Airbus Racer demonstrator

April 25, 2024  By Helicopters Staff

Airbus Racer currently holds 90 patents. The demonstrator aircraft took its first flight in April. (Photo: Jérôme Deulin / Airbus Helicopters)

Airbus Helicopters’ Racer demonstrator, developed in the framework of the European Research Clean Sky 2 project, performed its first flight, in Marignane, France. The aircraft flew for about 30 minutes, explains Airbus, allowing the flight test team to check the overall behaviour of the aircraft.

Airbus explains this program milestone launches a flight campaign that will take two years and aim to progressively open the aircraft’s flight envelope and demonstrate its high-speed capabilities.

“With its 90 patents, Racer is the perfect example of the level of innovation that can be achieved when European partners come together,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “This first flight is a proud moment for Airbus Helicopters and for our 40 partners in 13 countries.

“I look forward to watching this demonstrator pioneer high-speed capabilities and develop the eco-mode system that will contribute to reducing fuel consumption,” added Even.


Optimized for a cruise speed of more than 400 km/h, Airbus explains the Racer demonstrator aims to achieve the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, and mission performance. The Racer also targets a fuel consumption reduction of around 20 per cent, when compared to current generation helicopters of the same class, based on to aerodynamic optimization and an eco-mode propulsion system.

Developed with Safran Helicopter Engines, the hybrid-electrical eco-mode system allows one of the two Aneto-1X engines to be paused while in cruise flight, thus contributing to cutting CO2 emissions. Airbus explains Racer also aims to demonstrate how its particular architecture can contribute to lowering its operational acoustic footprint.

The Racer builds upon the aerodynamic configuration validated by the Airbus Helicopters X3 technology demonstrator which, back in 2013, broke the speed record by reaching 472 km/h. While the aim of the X3 was to validate the compound architecture, Airbus explains, that combining fixed wings for energy efficient lift, lateral rotors for energy-efficient propulsion and a main rotor that provides energy-efficient VTOL flight capacity, the Racer aims to take the compound formula closer to an operational configuration and to offer increased capabilities for certain missions for which high speed can be an advantage.


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