Eurocopter took the wraps off its new Hybrid Helicopter (H3) concept on Monday. The prototype for the helicopter—the X3—flew for the first time on Sept. 6 at the French DGA Flight Testing Center in Istres, reaching speeds of around 180 knots. Eurocopter plans to restart X3 flights in March 2011, with the goal of reaching cruise speeds of 220 knots.
The X3 features a five-blade main rotor system and two propellers mounted on short-span fixed wings. This gives it “the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full capabilities of a helicopter,” according to Eurocopter. Search and rescue, border patrol, passenger transport and air taxi are among the commercial uses for the H3, with military applications to include combat SAR, troop transport and EMS. President & CEO Lutz Bertling notes that development of the X3 from concept to first flight took less than three years.
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