Eurocopter’s X3 demonstrator set for U.S. tour
May 2, 2012, Fort Worth, Tx. - One of the two most intriguing new helicopter technology projects now in development, Eurocopter's X3 compound helicopter demonstrator will be making a U.S. tour beginning in June, including a few days at American Eurocopter in Grand Prairie.
By Carey Fredericks
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling announced the tour, expected to begin about June 20 in Grand Prairie, at the American Helicopter Society's annual meeting in Fort Worth on Tuesday.
The X3, a helicopter with a conventional rotor system for vertical lift, comes with a pair of wing-mounted turboprop engines that provide propulsion for airspeed akin to that of a conventional airplane.
The X3, a five-ton size helicopter in its current form, has topped 220 kts air speed in flight testing. But Bertling says the technology demonstration program is about more than creating a high speed helicopter.
"The objective is not to show that it's fast but to show that it's simple and effective," Bertling said. The key is to increase productivity and effectiveness, Bertling said, at affordable acquisition and operating costs.
The helicopter industry is on a renewed quest to develop aircraft with more speed and better vertical lift performance. But the buzzword in the industry, and among the military and commercial customers, is affordability both in price and long term operating and ownership costs.
The tilt-rotor technology developed by Bell Helicopter and incorporated in the V-22 Osprey gave a vertical lift aircraft a big jump in speed, but with a high degree of technical complexity, and very high acquisition and operating costs.
Sikorsky is working on its X2 technology and flew a small demonstrator aircraft that reached more than 250 kts. The X2 use a compound, coaxial dual rotor system to increase lift performance and a pusher prop for forward air speed.
Bertling said Eurocopter is bringing the X3 to the U.S. to demonstrate it to the U.S. military and policy makers.