The Eurocopter X3 hybrid helicopter attained a speed milestone of 255kt in level flight on June 7, surpassing the unofficial speed record for a helicopter.
The aircraft achieved the speed at an altitude of around 10,000ft during a 40-minute test flight over southern France. It marks the latest in a growing list of achievements for the X3, which is Eurocopter’s technology demonstrator for an advanced, cost-effective vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) transportation system that offers the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full-flight capabilities of a helicopter.
The X3 uses a pair of RTM 322 turboshaft engines to power a five-blade main rotor system with two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings.
“This concept is well suited for missions requiring long transit flights at high speeds, while retaining full vertical lift and hover capabilities – all at a very affordable cost,” Eurocopter said. The company envisages a wide range of potential applications for its hybrid configuration, including in long-distance search and rescue (SAR) operations, coast guard missions, border patrol flights, passenger transport and off- shore airlift, along with inter-city shuttle services.