June 7, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
It’s already flying faster than the average helicopter, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Sikorsky Aircraft’s X2 technology demonstrator achieved 181 knots true airspeed May 25, but it is designed to cruise at 250 KTAS.
The helicopter achieved the speed during a test flight. It is designed to demonstrate that a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 knots while retaining such desirable attributes as excellent low-speed handling, efficient hovering, and a seamless and simple transition to high speed.
“The X2 Technology demonstrator today exceeded average helicopter speeds of a conventional helicopter, generally 160-170 knots,” said Jim Kagdis, program manager, Sikorsky Advanced Programs. “The demonstrator is proving out the technologies very well, from the active vibration control system to the fly-by-wire controls. There are no show stoppers here so far, and now the program turns a corner, as this completes phase three of four. We are flying forward to the 250-knot cruise speed.”
The X2 Technology program began in 2005 when Sikorsky first committed resources and full funding for the program’s development.
“For potential customers, this milestone is exciting news and a solid signal that these technologies are true and executable, performing the way we expected they would,” said Mark Miller, Sikorsky vice president of research and engineering. “As the X2 Technology demonstrator prepares to write a new page in aviation history later this year, we will continue the conversation with our customers and look forward to mapping out future applications that will meet customer needs.”
The helicopter features counter-rotating, rigid rotor blades, and hub-drag reduction. It also has an active vibration reduction system.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
The Flying Physicians Association (FPA) has become the latest group to lend support to third-class medical reform and urge government officials to speed up their review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM would expand the number of pilots who could fly without needing to obtain a third-class medical certificate, a standard that has been successfully used by sport pilots for a decade.
California pilot Christopher Braun has created a revamped version of the cleco plier that is said to be lighter and more ergonomic.
There is no shortage of pilots in eastern Washington, but there does seem to be a scarcity of clubs in that part of the country.
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