Even as Eurocopter continues with the rapid development of its X3 compound helicopter, the company is planning a two-phase introduction of the advanced X4 helicopter, with the first version entering service in 2017 followed by the second in 2020.
The X4 is an EC 155 replacement that Eurocopter says will test the boundaries of what buyers think about conventional rotorcraft design. The first product based on X4 technology will be a medium twin in the 9,000- to 11,000-pound max gross weight category, with first test flights occurring in 2015. The intermediate configuration will be followed by a second, updated variant that will feature a radically different cockpit design and fly-by-wire controls.
Top executives at Eurocopter have called the X4 a game changer, saying its noise footprint will be as much as 70 percent lower and fuel consumption will be improved by 30 percent. So far, all we have to go on are the artist’s renderings that the company has released, which look promising. We’ll fill you in as more details emerge.