Euro­copter’s X3 cre­ats avi­a­tion his­tory


The Euro­copter X3 hy­brid he­li­copter has opened the fron­tiers of avi­a­tion by at­tain­ing a speed mile­stone of 255 knots (472 kmph) in level flight on June 7. Sev­eral days be­fore this ac­com­plish­ment, the X3 reached a speed of 263 knots (487 kmph) dur­ing a de­scent. With th­ese two suc­cesses, the X3 sur­passes the un­of­fi­cial speed record for a he­li­copter.

Euro­copter achieved the his­toric 255-knot speed mile­stone with the X3 fly­ing at an al­ti­tude of around 10,000 feet dur­ing a 40-minute test flight over south­ern France near Istres. 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 take-off and land­ing (VTOL) trans­porta­tion sys­tem that of­fers the speed of a tur­bo­prop-pow­ered air­craft and the full-flight ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a he­li­copter.

“It’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that the X3 is clearly in its el­e­ment at high speeds.” said Euro­copter test pilot Hervé Jam­mayrac. “While fly­ing at both 255 knots and 263 knots, the X3 per­formed ex­actly as it has through­out its flight en­ve­lope, ex­hibit­ing out­stand­ing sta­bil­ity and pro­vid­ing a low vi­bra­tion level with­out any anti-vi­bra­tion sys­tem.”

The X3 con­fig­u­ra­tion utilises 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 state-of-the-art de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture engine fam­ily com­bines power and growth po­ten­tial. The RTM 322 vari­ant, pow­er­ing the X3, is based on the RTM 322 pow­er­ing the NH90. It in­cor­po­rates a FADEC adapted to the re­quire­ments of this high-speed demon­stra­tor.

“Based on the X3 tech­nolo­gies, Euro­copter will con­tinue set­ting the stan­dard on fu­ture helicopters – of­fer­ing our cus­tomers new lev­els of per­for­mance in terms of speed, range and mis­sion ca­pa­bil­i­ties at com­pet­i­tive costs,” said CEO of Euro­copter, Guil­laume Faury. “The out­stand­ing X3 achieve­ments re­sult from the com­mit­ment and ex­cel­lence of our teams. I want to recog­nise ev­ery­one in­volved in the demon­stra­tor’s de­vel­op­ment.”

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