Eurocopter will resume test flights of its X3 high speed technology demonstrator next month as it advances the concept towards a potential launch.
In previous rounds of testing the airframer took the X3 to 230kt, using only 70% of the aircraft's avialable power. The next flights will take it beyond this level, although Eurocopter declined to be more specific.
Jean-Michel Billig, the company's chief technology officer said the latest flight test campaign, the third for the X3, will attempt to answer questions thrown up by analysis of data from the two previous campaigns. This will include the performance of the main rotorblades at high speed and how the Fadec system operates when moving between the two flight modes.
Taking the X3 to a higher power will also allow Eurocopter to steal the speed record for a rotorcraft held by rival Sikorsky and its X2.
"That would be the cherry on the cake," said Billig."But my aim is not to break the record but to understand the physics involved. We have to mature the technology before we launch the product."
Billig estimates that technology from the X3 could be seen on production helicopters by around 2020.
Although the concept is being tested on the EC155 Dauphin, Billig said it could equally be used on the larger Super Puma or even something bigger still.