Eurocopter has unveiled its long awaited "X3" technology demonstrator helicopter, a new design first hinted at (by mistake) at the 2009 Heli Expo show. Rolls-Royce made the blunder, saying they had provided an RTM 322 turboshaft engine to Eurocopter for the X3 program, after which all high ranking officials associated with the program turned white and lost their ability to speak!
Based on some patent applications, we had sort of thought the X3 would look like this...
Instead, Or like this other patent app:
Eurocopter today unveiled the actual demonstrator design, which the company says will be used for long-distance search and rescue, coast guard duties, border patrol, transport missions and inter-city shuttle services.
The company says in today's press release: "The X3 demonstrator's first flight occurred September 6 in southern France at the Istres Center of "DGA Flight Testing", which is operated by the French DGA government agency and ensures a secure and controlled environment. Initial testing will continue through December with reduced power, progressively opening the flight envelope to speeds of approximately 180 kts. After a three-month upgrade, X3 flights will resume in March 2011 with the goal of reaching sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 kts.
The unveiling comes just on the heels of Sikorsky announcing that it's very cool looking tech demonstrator, the X2, has exceeded 250kt and has a lot more ummph left in its speed envelop.
Based on what Eurocopter has built, I think Sikorsky won the first round of who's got the coolest new helicopter.
Here it is (below). What do you think? Personally, I don't see how Eurcopter will keep passengers and crew from getting sliced and diced by those props!