X 3 Video: The Hybrid Helicopter Starts its American Tour


This week, the month long visit of the X3 – high speed hybrid – Eurocopter to America began and Second Line of Defense was there.

The launch of the tour was held at Eurocopter facilities in Grand Prairie, Texas.  With the Lt Governor of Texas and other political dignitaries present, the senior leadership of Eurocopter introduced the X 3 to the United States.

The Lt. Governor who praised the contribution of Eurocopter to the Texas and American economy delivered the best line of the day.  He highlighted the pro-growth policy of the state and noted that Texas was the national leader in new job creation for the past few years.

And then commented: “I see your new French government is raising taxes; so why not bring more of your production to America.”

For the Eurocopter team, this was a chance to highlight their experimental, proof of concept hybrid helicopter.

This helo is a hybrid of turboprop plane and a traditional rotorcraft.  It has the stability of the turboprop with the flexibility of a helicopter.

And in the flight demonstration, the hybrid clearly showed the significant stability, mobility and speed which it brings to the table for various customers.  It is a test aircraft, and it remains to be seen how the concept will be applied to a production aircraft and how it will be sized for the market.

Currently, the test aircraft is using a Dauphin airframe with NH-90 engines in addition to the turboprops.

But Eurocopter might well look to a larger airframe for the production model.

The Eurocopter X3 hybrid aircraft has arrived in the United States for a month-long tour to demonstrate this advanced high-speed transportation system’s unique operational capabilities for both civil and military operators.

Transported aboard a chartered cargo jetliner, the X3 touched down in Texas today to complete its trans-Atlantic crossing from France’s Istres Flight Test Center. The hybrid aircraft will be based at the Grand Prairie, Texas headquarters of Eurocopter’s U.S. subsidiary, American Eurocopter, in preparation for the X3’s official U.S. tour and debut on June 20

During its American tour, the X3 will visit five locations for presentations that will showcase its exceptional combination of a helicopter’s full hover flight capabilities with cruise speeds of a turboprop-powered aircraft. In addition to aerial demonstrations performed with Eurocopter’s test team, the X3 will be available for flight evaluations by selected U.S. armed services personnel and civilian operators.

In testing to date performed from the Istres Flight Test Center in southern France, the X3 easily surpassed its original speed target of 220 kts.; reaching more than 230 kts. in level flight while using less than 80 percent of available power. Beyond confirming its excellent flight qualities, maneuverability, outstanding acceleration and deceleration capabilities, the hybrid aircraft has shown exceptional climb and descent rates along with very low vibration levels – all without any need for passive or active anti-vibration systems.

“After our highly successful flight trials in Europe, the United States tour will underscore the maturity of Eurocopter’s answer for applications where mission success depends on short flight duration through maximum cruise speed at reasonable operational costs,” said Lutz Bertling, Eurocopter’s President & CEO. “It’s important to demonstrate how we are applying innovation in responding to market needs with solutions that are available today, and which deliver cruise speeds 50 percent faster than standard helicopters at highly affordable costs – allowing for significant increases in productivity.”

The X3 demonstrator is equipped with two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings. A wide range of utilizations are envisaged for this hybrid configuration, including long-distance search and rescue (SAR), coast guard duties, border patrol missions, passenger transport, off-shore airlift, along with inter-city shuttle services. It also is well-suited for military missions in special forces operations, troop transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation – benefitting from the combination of higher cruise speeds with excellent vertical takeoff/landing performance.

Eurcopter Press Release

Dallas, Texas, USA, June 12, 2012


Credit Video: Eurocopter