X2 Retires, Heads For Oshkosh

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Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's X2 technology demonstrator flew for the last time last week, and next week it will be on display at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh. The innovative helicopter, winner of the 2010 Collier Prize, achieved a level flight speed of 253 knots, an unofficial speed record. The X2 is propelled by a unique system of counter-rotating rigid rotor blades powered by a turboshaft engine, plus a rear pusher prop. Sikorsky said the five-year research program achieved its objectives -- low single-pilot workload, low vibration, low acoustic signature, and high speed -- and will now evolve into an effort to design and fly the S-97 Raider, a light tactical helicopter for the U.S. military. Two prototypes will be built and evaluated. "These aircraft are designed to be capable of 10,000-foot hover out of ground effect on a 95-degree day," said Mark Miller, Sikorsky's vice president of research and engineering. "The future awaits this technology, and today we can say that we see it on the horizon."

At Oshkosh next week, the X2 will be on display at Booths 379-380 and 385-386 near ConocoPhillips Plaza. Forums about the project will be held on Monday and Thursday; click here for details. Sikorsky also will display its Project Firefly all-electric helicopter technology demonstrator, an S-300CTM helicopter with a high-efficiency, 200-hp electric motor and digital controller coupled with a lithium-ion energy storage system. The Firefly also features automated monitoring and alert technologies and next-generation cockpit displays. Participation from the rotorcraft community in AirVenture is expanding this year with a new Heli Center, established in conjunction with Helicopter Association International. At Heli-Expo in March, AVweb's Russ Niles got a close-up look at the X2; click here for his video report.