Sikorsky's X2 technology demonstrator's first flight, already two years late despite being "within arm's reach", may not happen until 2009.
Advanced programmes manager Jim Kagdis blamed winds and assorted weather conditions, hydraulic leaks and other "normal project issues" for the two-year plus delay for its first flight from 2006. He denies that weight reduction had been necessary for the demonstrator, of which there will be only one.
This coaxial rotor helicopter uses the T800 engine, developed for the cancelled Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, but it has limited forward velocity with its main rotor pitch and uses a pusher propeller to reach its target cruise speed of 250kt (460km/h).
The company plans a four-phase test programme after its first flight, which Kagdis says is "within arm's reach, that is months, less than 12, but may not be [before the end of the year]."
The four phases will each increase the maximum speed performed. Phase one will see the X2 fly up to 40kt with the pusher prop fitted but not integrated. Phase two will see a top speed of 120kt and the prop integrated. Phases three and four will bring the top speed to 180kt and beyond toward the target of 250kt.
Phase one will take place at the company's Elmira, New York facility and remaining phases at the West Palm Beach, Florida location. The four-phase test programme could end by 2010 with a commercial launch decision early in the next decade.