Eurocopter X3 Breaks Heli Speed Record

copter, aviation, speed, record, helicopter, heliIn test near Marseille, France, Eurocopter’s X3 has broken both the level flight and diving helicopter speed records set by Sikorsky’s X2 back in 2010.

On June 7 pilot Hervé Jammayrac pushed the X3 to an incredible 472 km/h (293 mph) beating Sikorsky’s record by a full 12 km/h (7 ½ mph). A few days earlier during the dive test the X3 just squeezed past the Sikorsky X2s dive record, reaching 487 km/h (303mph).

The X3, which was built as a technology demonstrator, is powered by two modified Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft engines. Both engines are used to power the craft’s 5 bladed main rotor while also driving the X3s two tractor propellers.

Key to the X3’s performance are its wing mounted tractor rotors which produce some 80% of the craft’s lift. According to Dominique Fournier, Eurocopter’s flight test engineer, “These flights allow us to further explore the behavior of main rotors at high speeds, and enable us to make effectiveness assessments of the fairing we’ve added to the main rotor hub – which will be beneficial for drag optimization”.

Although Eurocopter plans to retire the X3 by the end of the year, the craft has proven to be a valuable asset, delivering more data on “high speed rotary wing flight than was originally envisaged”.

Given the advances made with the X3, Eurocopter sees a number of places that its high speed helicopter might be useful. Chief among these options are search and rescue, fast reacting medical transportation, and of course as an option for the US military’s new attack helicopters.

For now, the Eurocopter X3 is the world’s faster helicopter, but given that the Paris Air Show is happening this week, there might be a few announcements that challenge the newly crowned champ. Stay tuned.

Watch a Video About the X3’s Design & Its Record Breaking Run:

Images & Video Courtesy of Eurocopter