Shortly after Eurocopter took the wraps off its X3 (pronounced X-cube), Rotor & Wing interviewed Jean-Michel Billig, executive vice president of research and development for Eurocopter Group, about the compound helicopter. Among the topics was how the high-speed Eurocopter airframe with short span-mounted turboprop engines and no tail rotor compares to the coaxial Sikorsky X2. With the X2 topping 250 knots less than two weeks before the public unveiling of the X3, and speed being a key aspect to both designs, it’s hard not to link the two. But Billig cautioned against associating the X3 with the X2, or other hybrid helicopter-aircraft designs such as the Bell-Boeing V-22 tiltrotor.
“Actually, we are not directly comparing ourselves with what Sikorsky is doing on the X2 or what other some other manufacturers are considering based on the tiltrotor design,” Billig told Andrew Parker, managing editor of Rotor & Wing. “What we are aiming at is providing our customers the solution they are expecting. We are targeting some specific missions where speed is of the essence, but for sure not at any cost. What we want to offer is a solution with reduced mission costs compared to a normal helicopter, and I believe this is a unique approach.”