During the Paris Air Show last week, Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling said that the AS365/EC155 Dauphin medium twin replacement program, codenamed X4, is now fully launched. In an unusual arrangement, two versions are planned to enter the market successively. In 2016, the first one will use technologies that are today at technology readiness level (TRL) 6, meaning they have been ground tested. Then, in 2020, a second version will feature systems that are now much more at a feasibility stage—TRL 2. This upgraded X4 will “completely change the way of flying,” Bertling said. He asserted that a pilot would not recognize the cockpit and its controls.
Indeed, an artist rendering of the cockpit, copyrighted by Eurocopter but released by equipment and engine manufacturer Safran, shows a radical departure. The way information is displayed is just as different from today’s glass cockpits as they are from classic clock-and-gauge arrangements. The windshield seems to be the primary flight display, with a highway-in-the-sky type depiction of the flightpath. A relatively conventional display, in the center, holds navigation maps and engine parameters. An additional display (likely to be a touchscreen) is located between the pilots, on the pedestal.
This Eurocopter-provided rendering was released as part of a Safran newsletter.
Sidesticks clearly indicate that the flight controls use a fly-by-wire system, probably made by Sagem. Eurocopter and Sagem had been working on fly-by-wire controls for a long time as part of the NH90 military transport. For at least four years, Eurocopter also had studied use on civil applications. The remaining challenges are weight and cost, Bertling admitted.
On the engine side, Turbomeca is working on the TM800, in the 1,100-shp class. The turboshaft company is planning on a 20 percent cut in fuel consumption. The TM800 is to replace the Arriel 2 family and the TM333. The first component rig tests should take place by the end of the year.
For the full version of this story, see the August print edition of Rotor & Wing.