Eurocopter continues its U.S. tour of the X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter today in Huntsville, Ala., where the aircraft will perform the first of several flight demonstrations for military leaders and aviators in several locations across the country. The X3 will demonstrate its unique flight characteristics, which include a cruise speed of 200 knots, high rates of climb and executing high-speed maneuvers that are not routine for conventional rotary-wing aircraft. The X3 has already demonstrated a maximum speed of 232 knots at 80 percent power and a rate of climb of 5,500 feet per minute.
The tour began when the X3 made its debut at the Grand Prairie, Texas headquarters of Eurocopter’s U.S. subsidiary – American Eurocopter – which was attended by employees, elected officials, customers and industry partners.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate to military leaders and aviators across the country the cutting-edge technology we’ve developed with the X3,” said Eurocopter President and CEO Lutz Bertling. “With the innovative design and unmatched technology of our X3 demonstrator, we are well positioned to bring this type of helicopter to the market in the next decade.”
In addition to providing the first-ever demonstration of the X3 outside of Europe, Eurocopter’s cutting-edge innovation and tradition of rotary-wing excellence were underscored by a Grand Prairie Airport fly-in of its product range; from the pioneering Alouette and BO105 to today’s UH-72A Lakota for the U.S. Army, the U.S. Coast Guard’s MH-65C Dolphin, as well as the EC225, AS350 and EC145 – which are used in civilian operations, law enforcement, medical airlift and parapublic missions.
Some guest pilots will fly aboard the X3 during its visit to Huntsville’s Redstone Army Arsenal Airfield July 9 and 10 to experience the aircraft’s maturity and excellent handling characteristics firsthand. The X3 will then travel to Fort Bragg’s Simmons Army Airfield in North Carolina; Virginia’s Manassas Regional Airport; Davison Army Airfield at Fort Belvoir, Va., and it will finish its U.S. tour at the Pentagon.
Eurocopter’s aircraft configuration for the X3 uses a pair of turboshaft engines to power a five-blade main rotor system, along with two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings. This concept is well adapted to missions requiring long transit flights and where speed is important, while retaining vertical lift and hover capabilities – all at a very affordable cost.
The company envisions a wide range of applications for its hybrid technology in future products, including long-distance search and rescue (SAR), Coast Guard missions, border patrol missions, passenger transport and off-shore airlift, along with inter-city shuttle services. It also is well-suited for military missions in special forces operations, troop transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation – benefitting from the combination of higher cruise speeds with excellent vertical takeoff and landing performance.
Eurocopter began X3 flight testing in September 2010 at the Istres Flight Test Center in southern France, where the aircraft easily surpassed its initial speed target of 220 knots; reaching more than 230 knots in level flight while using only 80 percent of available power. Beyond confirming its excellent flight qualities, maneuverability, outstanding acceleration and deceleration capabilities, the hybrid demonstrator has shown exceptional climb and descent rates along with very low vibration levels – all without any need for passive or active anti-vibration systems.
PHoto: Rob Vogelaar Z.A.P.P.