Although Eurocopter's test pilots think flying the X3 high-speed compound rotorcraft is "a dream come true", they will soon have to wake up to reality, as the manufacturer retires the experimental aircraft.
This year's Paris air show is likely to be the X3's final public appearance, before it is flown back to its home at Istres air base in the south of France on Monday, where it will enter retirement.
Hervé Jammayrac, Eurocopter experimental test pilot, has been on each of the X3's sorties including its recent record-breaking effort, where it hit 255kt (472km/h) in level flight.
"It has been a great experience for me and everyone in Eurocopter. In terms of motivating our employees, it has had a huge impact, people have realised that even a big company is able to create something very, very different."
He says the X3 is simpler to fly than a conventional helicopter, as it separates lift-generation from thrust. It retains the manoeuvrability and agility of a rotorcraft, however, while, being able to climb or descend much more steeply, says Jammayrac.
Despite the end of the programme being a sad event for him, "we knew from the beginning that it would only be for a [defined] period of time. I hope we will have the chance to continue with the next step," he says.
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Source: Flight Daily News