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Eurocopter unveils new hybrid helicopter X3

The new hybrid helicopter X3. A Eurocopter photo

MARIGNANE, FRANCE (BNS): European defence major EADS Eurocopter on Monday unveiled its new innovative high-speed long-range hybrid helicopter X3.

The new helicopter, with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, can cruise at a speed of over 220 kts (400 km/hour), the company said.

The rotorcraft has been designed to carry out a number of tasks including long-distance search and rescue (SAR) missions, coast guard duties, border patrol missions, passenger transport and inter-city shuttle services.

Equipped with two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings, the X3 can be used as “an advanced transportation system offering the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter.”

The chopper can also be used for military missions in special forces operations, troops transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation, Eurocopter said.

“The teams at Eurocopter took this hybrid helicopter from concept to first flight in less than three years, which demonstrates their skills, capabilities and dedication to defining the future of rotary-wing aircraft,” Lutz Bertling, Eurocopter’s President & CEO, said.

The X3 undertook its maiden test flight on September 6 in southern France.

Initial testing will continue through December with reduced power, progressively opening the flight envelope to speeds of approximately 180 kts. After a three-month upgrade, X3 flights will resume in March 2011 with the goal of reaching sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 kts, Eurocopter said.


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