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