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Airbus Helicopters Racer Prototype Completes Maiden Flight

Our Bureau - : Apr 25, 2024 - : 6:29 pm

Racer demonstrator, developed by Airbus Helicopters as part of the European Research Clean Sky 2 initiative, has completed its inaugural flight at Marignane, according to the company’s press release on Thursday (Apr. 25). The aircraft remained airborne for approximately 30 minutes, allowing the flight test team to assess its overall performance.

This achievement marks the beginning of a two-year flight campaign, during which the aircraft’s flight envelope will be gradually expanded to showcase its high-speed capabilities.

“With its 90 patents, Racer is the perfect example of the level of innovation that can be achieved when European partners come together. This first flight is a proud moment for Airbus Helicopters and for our 40 partners in 13 countries,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters.

“I look forward to watching this demonstrator pioneer high-speed capabilities and develop the eco-mode system that will contribute to reducing fuel consumption,” he added.

Designed for a cruise speed exceeding 400 km/h, the Racer prototype aims to strike a balance between speed, cost-effectiveness, and mission performance. It seeks to achieve a fuel consumption reduction of approximately 20% compared to current-generation helicopters of similar class, owing to aerodynamic enhancements and an eco-mode propulsion system developed in collaboration with Safran Helicopter Engines.

The hybrid-electric eco-mode system enables one of the two Aneto-1X engines to be temporarily deactivated during cruise flight, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. Additionally, the Racer aims to demonstrate how its unique architecture can mitigate its operational acoustic impact.

The Racer draws upon the aerodynamic configuration validated by the Airbus Helicopters X3 technology demonstrator, which set a speed record in 2013 by reaching 472 km/h. While the X3 focused on validating a compound architecture integrating fixed wings for efficient lift, lateral rotors for propulsion, and a main rotor for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability, the aircraft aims to refine this concept for operational use, offering enhanced capabilities for missions where high speed is advantageous.


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