Eurocopter Claims New Helo Speed Record


Eurocopter said on Tuesday its X3 hybrid helicopter reached 255 knots in level flight last week, unofficially breaking the helicopter speed record. Sikorsky’s X2 had reached a speed of 253 knots before it retired in 2011. The X3 reached its top speed while flying at an altitude of about 10,000 feet during a 40-minute test flight over southern France. Eurocopter said the X3 is its technology demonstrator for a cost-effective vertical-takeoff-and-landing transportation system that would offer the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full-flight capabilities of a helicopter.

The X3 also flew last week at a speed of 263 knots during a descent, the company said. “The X3 is clearly in its element at high speeds,” said Eurocopter test pilot Herv Jammayrac. “While flying at both 255 knots and 263 knots, the X3 performed exactly as it has throughout its flight envelope, exhibiting outstanding stability and providing a low vibration level without any anti-vibration system.” The X3configuration utilizes a pair of RTM 322 turboshaft engines to power a five-blade main rotor system with two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings. The X3 first flew in September 2010, and has accumulated about 140 hours aloft.