Eurocopter's X3 hybrid aircraft begins military section of U.S. tour

Eurocopter X3 hybrid aircraftHUNTSVILLE, Ala., 4 July 2012. Eurocopter continues its U.S. tour of the X3 hybrid aircraft in Huntsville, Ala., where the aircraft will perform the first of several flight demonstrations for military leaders and aviators in many locations across the country.

The X3 will demonstrate its unique flight characteristics, which include a cruise speed of 230 mph., high rates of climb and high-speed maneuvers that are not standard for conventional rotary-wing aircraft. The X3 has already demonstrated a maximum speed of 266 mph. at 80 percent power and a rate of climb of 5,500 feet per minute.

The tour began when the X3 made its debut at the Grand Prairie, Texas headquarters of Eurocopter’s U.S. subsidiary, American Eurocopter, which was attended by employees, elected officials, customers and industry partners.

Select guest pilots will be able to fly aboard the X3 during its visit to Huntsville’s Redstone Army Arsenal Airfield on July 9 and 10 to experience the aircraft's maturity and handling characteristics. The X3 will then travel to Fort Bragg’s Simmons Army Airfield in North Carolina; Virginia’s Manassas Regional Airport; Davison Army Airfield at Fort Belvoir, Va., and it will finish its U.S. tour at the Pentagon.

The X3 began flight testing in September 2010 at the Istres Flight Test Center in southern France. In testing to date the X3 surpassed its original speed target of 253 mph.; reaching more than 264 mph. in level flight while using less than 80 percent of available power. Beyond confirming its flight qualities, maneuverability, acceleration and deceleration capabilities, the hybrid aircraft has shown climb and descent rates along with low vibration levels, all without any passive or active anti-vibration systems.

The X3 demonstrator, based on a Eurocopter EC155 helicopter with the addition of two short span wings and the removal of the tail rotor, 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 uses are imagined 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 is also well-suited for military missions in special forces operations, troop transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation, benefiting from the combination of higher cruise speeds with vertical takeoff and landing performance.

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