New X2 Technology Progressing Well
Helicopters usually fall into two categories: good hover efficiency and low speed, or low hover efficiency and good speed. Up until now manufacturers and pilots have always had to choose between speed and hover performance when considering an aircraft that is capable of vertical flight. In addition to this, some of the larger, faster aircraft – such as Harriers, are very large and are built to carry a lot of weight so operational costs of such an aircraft are sky high.
Fortunately it looks like we might no longer have to make this ‘trade-off’ of performance abilities. Sikorsky has been hard at work creating an aircraft that can not only give the pilot a good deal of speed, but also enable him to have good hover efficiency – something that is generally essential when it comes to the sort of tasks that helicopters are typically used for. Sikorsky calls their new concept ‘X2 Technology‘. The name already has a trademark attached to it even though the first example has yet to leave the ground. Still, it would seem that it won’t be long before the first Sikorsky X2 Technology aircraft demonstration will be taking to the skies for its first test flight. The last few months have been spent in rigorous development and ground tests to ensure that everything runs according to plan. The technologies being made use of include a full control rotor rpm, low drag hub fairings, high lift-to-drag rigid blades, Active Vibration Control and a Fly-by-Wire system that ensures that the engine/rotor/propulsor system operates at maximum efficiency.
The first “blades-on” ground test was run on May 13 this year, and the test went very smoothly. Now the development of the first demonstrator aircraft is moving ahead at a rapid pace. Sikorsky ultimately hopes to use the demonstrator aircraft to show how the various new technologies can be used in a flight environment. They hope to appeal to their military, commercial and international customers during the demonstration. The aircraft that will be used for the demonstration is the counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter. Fitted with the new X2 Technology, this aircraft should not only be able to cruise at 250 knots an hour with ease, but it should also have excellent low speed handling, an easy transition to high speed and very efficient hovering capabilities. Sikorsky Aircraft has been working on the new X2 Technology since June 2005. The project is funded in its entirety by Sikorsky, but will likely generate a lot of interest from customers once the demonstrator aircraft is complete.