New concept helicopter technology has taken the Paris air show by storm with Airbus Helicopters unveiling its groundbreaking high-tech helicopter described as almost fiction movie innovation.
The helicopter is likely to change the way rapid response units of the police services and even special defence programmes will operate in the future with regard to either tackling violent crime or terrorism. It is the product of its Clean Sky 2 European research programme code-named Racer – for Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft.
The Racer demonstrator has newly designed hybrid metallic-composite airframe, specifically planned for low weight and low recurring costs. It will be equipped with a new high voltage direct current electrical generation, which will significantly contribute to weight reduction.
Helicopters are the most effective source used for logistics, combat, troop deployment and supplies. Be it war or rescue purposes, speed is deemed a critical requirement for helicopters.
The Racer prototype unveiled at the air show has incorporated a host of innovative features and it boasts of a cruise speed of more than 400km/h, making it the second-fastest helicopter after the military helicopter Eurocopter X3, which is capable of flying at speeds of up to 487km/h.
Building on the success of the self-funded X3 demonstrator, which validated the “compound” aerodynamic configuration – a combination of a traditional main rotor and innovative lateral rotors – the Racer project will demonstrate its suitability for a wide spectrum of missions where increased speed and efficiency will bring significant added value for citizens and operators. This is especially the case for emergency medical services and search and rescue operations, as well as for public services, commercial air transport and private and business aviation.
Guillaume Faury, Airbus Helicopters chief executive said: “Today we unveil our bold vision for the future of high-speed rotorcraft. This new project, pulling together the skills and know-how of dozens of European partners through the Clean Sky 2 initiative, aims to bring increased speed and range at the right cost, thanks to a simple, safe and proven aerodynamic formula.”
“It will pave the way for new time-sensitive services for 2030 and beyond, setting new benchmarks for high-speed helicopter transportation,” he boasted.
The Racer demonstrator boasts an innovative “box-wing” design, optimised for aerodynamic efficiency, to provide lift in cruise mode while isolating passengers during ground operations from the “pusher” lateral rotors designed to generate thrust in forwarding flight.
Faury said the engine manufacturer was testing an “eco mode” created to demonstrate an electrically-powered “start and stop” of one engine in flight to help generate fuel savings and increasing range.
According to experts, the Racer demonstrator could achieve a trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability and mission performance. Its final assembly is expected to start in 2019, with the first flight scheduled for 2020.