Airbus Unveils New Flying Lab

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Airbus Helicopters unveiled its latest flying laboratory on Wednesday with the introduction of the “DisruptiveLab” helicopter. Technology tested by the new demonstrator is expected to focus on aircraft performance improvements and environmental footprint reduction. It will include evaluations of aerodynamic architecture designed to reduce fuel consumption along with testing “a fully parallel hybrid propulsion system that enables the battery to be recharged in-flight.”

“The DisruptiveLab goes another step further in Airbus Helicopters’ ambitious strategy to reduce the environmental impact of its helicopters and to lead the way towards a sustainable aerospace industry,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even. “The innovative architecture and the fully parallel hybrid propulsion system could only really be tested on a brand new demonstrator in order to verify the combined impact in CO2 reduction which could be as much as 50 percent.”

According to Airbus, the DisruptiveLab’s new architecture features can be found in its aerodynamic aluminum and composite fuselage, more compact rotor head and streamlined Fenestron tail rotor incorporated into a lighter rear fuselage. The demonstrator was partially financed by France’s Direction Générale de l’aviation Civile (Directorate General for Civil Aviation/DGAC). Flight tests are expected to begin before the end of the year.

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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