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.”