Airbus Unveils Hybrid Helicopter Design


Airbus is developing a high-speed helicopter that will cruise at 215 knots while maximizing efficiency and minimizing cost, the company said at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday. The Racer demonstrator, now in development, will be ready to fly in 2020. “This new project, pulling together the skills and know-how of dozens of European partners through the Clean Sky 2 initiative, aims to bring increased speed and range at the right cost, thanks to a simple, safe and proven aerodynamic formula,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “It will pave the way for new time-sensitive services for 2030 and beyond, setting new benchmarks for high-speed helicopter transportation.” The Clean Sky initiative will reportedly contribute more than $200 million to the program.

The Racer demonstrator will be built around a simple architecture, the company said, with the aim to ensure safety and cost-efficiency. A “box-wing” design, optimized for aerodynamic efficiency, will provide lift in cruise mode, and also will isolate passengers during ground operations from the pusher lateral rotors that generate thrust in forward flight. The lateral and main rotors will be driven by two RTM322 engines by Safran. An “eco mode” will be tested by the engine manufacturer to demonstrate an electrically powered “start and stop” of one engine in flight, to increase range and optimize fuel efficiency. The Racer airframe will be built from a hybrid metallic-composite material designed for low weight and low recurring costs. It will also be equipped with a new high-voltage direct-current electrical system, which will significantly contribute to weight reduction, the company said.