Eurocopter Beats Airspeed Target

X3 hybrid helicopter test flight reaches 232 knots.

Eurocopter X3 Big

Eurocopter X3 Big

__Eurocopter recently reported that flight-testing on the X3 is progressing nicely and its test pilots attained a sustained true airspeed of 232 knots. This number, which was achieved during stable, level flight on the third flight-testing mission after the X3's gear boxes were modified, is significantly higher than the 220 knots the Marignane, France-based company projected for its hybrid helicopter. Eurocopter test pilot Hervé Jammayrac and flight test engineer Daniel Semioli completed the mission. "We were impressed by the ease at which this speed objective was attained," Jammayrac says. Flight-testing of the X3 is being performed at the DGA (General Directorate for Armament) flight test center in Istres, France.

In addition to good cruise speed capabilities, the hybrid configuration enables vertical takeoffs and landings and full hover capabilities. Eurocopter also claims the X3 has shown impressive climb and descent rates, acceleration and deceleration, and maneuverability.

The X3 uses Eurocopter’s Dauphin airframe, with a short, forward-swept wing attached to each side of the fuse-lage. Two turboshaft engines spin a five-blade main rotor system on top and two propellers attached at the wingtips. The flight test program will continue throughout 2011 to explore the full flight envelope and evaluate all of the possibilities offered by this hybrid technology.