Eurocopter completed its U.S. tour of the X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter today at the Pentagon, where the aircraft landed and was on static display.
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.
Commercial customers from various markets flew the X3 when it demonstrated 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.
„Bringing the X3 to United States was a significant opportunity to showcase the aircraft’s technology and capability to a wide variety of customers,” said Eurocopter President and CEO Lutz Bertling. „The feedback we received from commercial, government and military customers who flew the X3 was overwhelmingly positive. It is clear that this technology will change the helicopter industry.”
Several military guest pilots flew aboard the X3 during its previous stops at Huntsville’s Redstone Army Arsenal Airfield on July 9 and 10, Fort Bragg’s Simmons Army Airfield on July 16 and 17 and Fort Belvoir’s Davison Army Airfield July 24 and 25.
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. 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.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defense-related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 20,000 people. In 2011, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s number one helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 5.4 billion Euros, orders for 457 new helicopters and a 43 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.