Airbus Helicopters has showcased an updated concept for the high speed demonstrator it is developing as part of the Clean Sky 2 European research programme.
Revealed at the Paris Air Show on 20 June, the Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft (RACER) concept features updated aerodynamics to help it achieve the company's stated goal of a cruise speed of more than 400 kph.
"It will aim at validating the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability, and mission performance. It will pave the way for new time-sensitive services for 2030 and beyond, setting new benchmarks for high-speed helicopter transportation," said Guillaume Faury, Airbus Helicopters CEO.
The RACER's general architecture will be the same as the company's X3. Based on the EC 365 Dauphin airframe, the X3 was fitted with two stub-wing mounted propellers for forward propulsion in high-speed flight, while the tail rotor has been replaced by a fixed stabiliser assembly.
Optimised for performance and low acoustic signature, these lateral rotors as well as the main rotor will be driven by two RTM322 engines. An 'eco mode' will be tested by the engine manufacturer to demonstrate an electrically-powered start and stop of one engine in flight, thus generating fuel savings and increasing range.
The RACER demonstrator will also benefit from a hybrid metallic-composite airframe, specifically designed for low weight and low recurring costs. It will also be equipped with a new high voltage direct current electrical generation, which will significantly contribute to weight reduction.
Final assembly of the demonstrator is expected to start in 2019, with a first flight the next year.
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