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Rotorcraft Report: Piasecki Looks to Next X-49A Test Phase

By Staff Writer | July 1, 2008
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PRODUCTS | AIRFRAMES

Piasecki Aircraft has completed initial Phase 1 flight tests of its SpeedHawk X-49A vectored-thrust, ducted-propeller compound helicopter and is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Navy, which owns the modified Sikorsky Aircraft SH-60F, on how it might proceed with subsequent testing.

U.S. Army officials were slated to complete a review of Phase 1 test results last month and determine what additional flights may be required to complete that phase. The SpeedHawk carries an FAA experimental registration, but its operations adhere to the Navy’s Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures and Standards (NATOPS) limits. Those include a do-not-exceed speed (Vne) restriction of 180 kt and a gross weight cap of 21,844 lb. Piasecki officials believe their technology will enable the aircraft to safely fly faster and at a higher gross weight. If the Navy clears the way for Phase 2 tests, the Essington, Pa. company would modified the X-49A with a supplementary power unit, flight control upgrades and drag reductions aimed at achieving speeds above 200 kt.

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According to the company, preliminary Phase 1 results indicate the X-49A flew as much as 47 percent faster than the baseline H-60 at equivalent power levels and demonstrated as much as a 50 percent reduction in vibration and fatigue loads, with hover performance on average within 3.7 percent of predicted values.

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