Sikorsky X2 hits 250kt goal

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Sikorsky has achieved its goal of flying the X2 hybrid helicopter demonstrator at 250kt in level flight.

Though not an official record, the milestone, set during a 1.1h sortie today (15 September) at the company's West Palm Beach facility in Florida, exceeds by 34kt the officially recognized top speed for a helicopter - 216kt (400km/h) by a Westland Lynx in 1984.

 
 ©SIKORSKY

Sikorsky in July reached an unofficial speed of 225kt with the X2 as engineers and test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck progressively pushed the coaxial contra-rotating twin rotor vehicle through its envelope in the last of four test phases since first flight in August 2008. Based on analysis, Sikorsky had anticipated an ultimate top speed of about 260kt with the current T800 turboshaft engine and pusher propeller combination. Sikorsky says Bredenbeck reached 260kt during the flight, but in a "very shallow dive".

"Our primary key performance parameter has been met," says Jim Kagdis, program manager of advanced programs at Sikorsky, after the flight. "The 250kt milestone was established as the goal of the demonstrator from its inception. It's exciting to imagine how our customers will use this capability."