Eurocopter has conducted full-power tests of its hybrid helicopter design and says the X3 maintained 232 knots TAS in straight and level flight for "several minutes" on May 12. The aircraft, with twin outboard propellers augmenting the conventional rotor, first flew last fall but didn't have the final-design transmission on board and was restricted to 180 knots. With all the right gears in place, the aircraft actually beat the target top speed of 220 knots and the test pilot said it provoked no grey hairs. "We were impressed by the ease at which this speed objective was attained," said test pilot Herve Jammayrac. The X3 is intended to grow into a family of aircraft that offer conventional aircraft speed with helicopter versatility. Sikorsky also has a hybrid called the X2 and it's been recognized with aviation's most coveted award.
As we reported in March, the Collier Trophy went to Sikorsky for the X2 and its record-setting 250-knot dash. Sikorsky is now working on a military version of the X2 as a close-support and attack platform.