Maybe it was the new tail design. Maybe it was skilled pilot. Maybe it was the twin rotor blades. Or maybe they all contributed to Sikorsky's X2 helicopter speeding past 249 miles per hour to become the world's fastest helicopter. The chopper broke the air speed record, which has stood since 1986, during a test run last week in West Palm Beach Florida.
The X2 Technology demonstrator combines an integrated suite of technologies intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter. The experimental craft is designed to demonstrate that a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 288 mph (its target max speed) 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’s latest flight is continuing to push the speed envelope, successfully flying approximately 50 knots faster than a traditional helicopter,” said Jim Kagdis, the Program Manager, Advanced Programs, at Sikorsky.
“Vibration levels and aircraft performance have continued to meet or exceed our expectations, so we are pleased to report that all systems are ‘go’ in our mission to achieve a 250-knot cruise speed later this year.”
In the demonstrator’s previous flight, a new tail configuration was incorporated to decrease pilot workload as the aircraft speed is increased, improving the overall aircraft handling qualities.
The X2 Technology program began in 2005 when Sikorsky first committed resources and full funding for the program’s development.