Airbus Helicopters has performed the long-awaited maiden flight of its Racer high-speed demonstrator.

Taking place at the airframer’s Marignane base in the south of France, the 30min sortie on 25 April saw the aircraft’s overall behaviour tested.

Racer-c-Airbus Helicopters

Source: Jerome Deulin/Airbus Helicopters

Racer’s maiden sortie lasted 30min

A two-year flight campaign totalling around 200h is now planned with a goal of demonstrating the Racer’s high-speed capabilities.

Airbus Helicopters developed the Racer as part of the EU-funded Clean Sky 2 programme. Work on the demonstrator has been under way since 2017 with a first flight originally slated for 2021.

Powered by twin Safran Helicopter Engines Aneto-1X powerplants, the demonstrator should be able to achieve cruise speeds of around 220kt (407km/h).

A compound design, it features twin pusher propellers mounted on V-wings. The Racer also features an “eco-mode” function, allowing one of the two engines to be paused during cruise flight, allowing the other to run at an optimised output, helping to cut CO2 emissions.

Installation of the eco-mode-enabled engines will take place at a later date.

Airbus Helicopters is targeting a fuel-burn reduction of 20% on the Racer compared with current-generation helicopters in the same class.