Airbus Helicopters' Rapid And Cost-Efficient Rotorcraft (RACER) high-speed rotorcraft concept has passed its preliminary design review (PDR), the company announced on 16 October.
The technology demonstrator, which is being funded by the European Union's H2020 framework through the Clean Sky 2 programme, had its key sub-system validated during the PDR, paving the way for component manufacture.
Geared at providing the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability, and mission performance, the RACER's aerodynamic configuration was validated last year. With this successful PDR, final assembly of the prototype is planned to start in late 2019.
First revealed at the Paris Airshow in 2017, the RACER concept has a stated goal of a cruise speed of more than 400 kph (250 mph). To achieve this, the helicopter builds on the company's X3 demonstrator, which featured an EC 365 Dauphin airframe fitted with two stub-wing mounted propellers for forward propulsion in high-speed flight. The tail rotor of the X3 has been replaced by a fixed stabiliser assembly, and while the X3's propellers were in the conventional 'pull' configuration, those of the RACER have been reversed into the 'push' configuration instead.
Further to proving high-speed flight, the RACER is also looking to increase the helicopter's fuel efficiency. The lateral rotors as well as the main rotor will be driven by two RTM322 engines, with an 'eco mode' for an electrically powered start and stop of one engine in flight for fuel savings and increased range.
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