Eurocopter is making a grand U.S. tour with its X3 hybrid developmental heloplane, which features a pair of conventional looking turboprops in addition to a conventional looking rotar.
The craft, which Eurocopter developed in just three years’ time, is nearly 100 knots faster than the fleetest comparably sized conventional helicopters. The X3 has achieved better than 230 knots in level flight, though it is not clear whether the craft qualifies as the world’s fastest helicopter, since it is technically more than a helicopter.
Regardless, the bottom line is that the X3, in whatever production form it takes, will be competing directly against helicopters that are much, much slower than it is and/or turboprops that are about as fast but that can’t land and take off vertically. The wildcard would seem to be the craft’s cabin — Eurocopter says production versions will be able to carry as many as 11 passengers — and its vertical capabilities. The company claims the X3 is capable of “full helicopter hover flight capabilities” and plans to demonstrate those on its US tour.
Eurocopter sees a wide variety of applications for the X3 for civil and military use, and it plans to use the technology developed in the new craft across its product line.
View a video demonstration of how the X3 does what it does below.