Airbus Helicopters unveiled the aerodynamic configuration of a high-speed demonstrator on 20 June at the Paris air show. The hybrid helicopter is being developed as part of the Clean Sky 2 European research programme. Codenamed Racer (Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft), Airbus said the demonstrator will be optimised for a cruise speed of more than 400 km/h (250 mph). Final assembly of the demonstrator is due to start in 2019, said the firm, with a first flight the next year.
Guillaume Faury, Airbus Helicopters CEO, said: “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. ”
The ‘box-wing’ design will provide lift in cruise mode while isolating passengers during ground operations from the ‘pusher’ lateral rotors, which generate thrust in forward flight. The lateral rotors and the main rotor will be driven by two RTM322 engines.