Eurocopter x3 – photo Patrick Penna/Eurocopter
October 20, 2011 By: Craig Hoyle – Flight Global
Eurocopter will launch a third phase of flight tests with its X3 technology demonstrator within the next few weeks, with the goal of exceeding an original speed target of 240kt (444km/h).
Previous tests have cleared the high-speed aircraft's full flight envelope, and demonstrated a maximum of 232kt. However, this has been achieved by using just 75-80% of its available power, said Jean-Michel Billig, Eurocopter's executive vice-president engineering.
"In the third phase we want to investigate what happens with 100% power to the rotor," he said. The process will last for roughly three to four months.
Billig declined to reveal the company's new target for speed performance, but noted that during the first two test phases "the results were far beyond our expectations".
Meanwhile, Eurocopter is defining potential size requirements and missions for any possible future production aircraft to draw on the X3 programme's work. Candidate roles include search and rescue and offshore operations, plus possible armed applications and VIP transport use, Billig told Shephard's HeliPower conference in Farnborough, the UK on 20 October.