Eurocopter’s X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator has recorded a speed of 232kt (430 km/h) in level flight, surpassing its original target of 220kt but falling short of Sikorsky’s unofficial speed record of 250kt set with their X2 prototype earlier this year.
The X3 reached its new speed milestone while on a test flight during May 12, occurring only three missions after a scheduled gearbox upgrade enabled the helicopter to operate at full power. Eurocopter test pilot Hervé Jammayrac and flight test engineer Daniel Semioli were both impressed by the X3’s performance and the ease of which it attained its new speed benchmark.
“The X3 handles extremely well, demonstrating remarkable stability at high speed – even with the autopilot off. We are very proud of this achievement, which results from the dedicated efforts of all those who have worked on the project,” Jammayrac said.
Eurocopter president and CEO Lutz Bertling, praised the X3 design team, proclaiming that future helicopters incorporating the hybrid demonstrator’s rotor blade/propeller configuration would offer users “50 per cent more cruise speed and range at very affordable costs”.
First beginning flight testing at the DGA Flight Test Center in Istres, France, in September 2010, the X3 achieved an initial airspeed goal of 180kt in November at reduced engine power before the gearbox upgrade was installed.