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 – benefitting from the hybrid aircraft’s combination of higher cruise speeds with excellent vertical takeoff/landing performance.
“Innovation is at the core of Eurocopter’s strategy to continue its leadership in the global helicopter sector, and the X3 demonstrator represents a key element of our innovation roadmap,” said Lutz Bertling, Eurocopter’s President & CEO. “The teams at Eurocopter took this hybrid helicopter from concept to first flight in less than three years, which demonstrates their skills, capabilities and dedication to defining the future of rotary-wing aircraft.”
The X3 demonstrator’s first flight occurred September 6 in southern France at the Istres Center of “DGA Flight Testing”, which is operated by the French DGA government agency and ensures a secure and controlled environment. 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.