Ro­tor­heads

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Air­bus un­veils the Racer; the Jet Ranger X de­liv­ers; and other news

At June’s Paris Air Show Air­bus He­li­copters re­vealed the aero­dy­namic con­fig­u­ra­tion of a high-speed de­mon­stra­tor it is de­vel­op­ing as part of the Euro­pean Clean Sky 2 re­search pro­gramme. Co­de­named Racer, an acro­nym for Rapid And Cost-ef­fec­tive Ro­tor­craft, Air­bus says it will in­cor­po­rate ‘a host of in­no­va­tive fea­tures’ aimed at achiev­ing the best trade-off be­tween speed, cost-ef­fi­ciency, sus­tain­abil­ity and mis­sion per­for­mance. Tar­get cruis­ing speed is in ex­cess of 215 knots. Fi­nal as­sem­bly of the de­mon­stra­tor is ex­pected to start in 2019, with first flight in the fol­low­ing year.

“To­day we un­veil our bold vi­sion for the fu­ture of high-speed ro­tor­craft,” said Guil­laume Faury, Air­bus He­li­copters’ Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer. “This new project, pulling to­gether the skills and know-how of dozens of Euro­pean part­ners through the Clean Sky 2 ini­tia­tive, aims to bring in­creased speed and range at the right cost, thanks to a sim­ple, safe and proven aero­dy­namic for­mula. It will pave the way for new time-sen­si­tive ser­vices for 2030 and be­yond, set­ting new bench­marks for high-speed he­li­copter trans­porta­tion.” The Racer de­mon­stra­tor will be built around a sim­ple ar­chi­tec­ture, en­sur­ing safety and cost-ef­fi­ciency. A ‘box-wing’ de­sign, op­ti­mised for aero­dy­namic ef­fi­ciency, will pro­vide lift in the cruise while iso­lat­ing pas­sen­gers dur­ing ground op­er­a­tions from the ‘pusher’ lat­eral ro­tors that will gen­er­ate thrust in for­ward flight. Op­ti­mised for per­for­mance and low acous­tic sig­na­ture, these lat­eral ro­tors and the main ro­tor will be driven by two RTM322 tur­boshafts. An ‘eco mode’ will be tested by the en­gine man­u­fac­turer to demon­strate an elec­tri­cally-pow­ered ‘start-and-stop’ of one en­gine in flight, thus gen­er­at­ing fuel sav­ings and in­creas­ing range. The Racer de­mon­stra­tor will have a hy­brid metal­lic-com­pos­ite air­frame, de­signed for low weight and low re­cur­rent costs, and will also fea­ture high volt­age di­rect cur­rent elec­tri­cal gen­er­a­tion, which will sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­ute to weight re­duc­tion.

CG artist’s im­pres­sion of the Air­bus He­li­copter Racer

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