Airbus Helicopters says its high-speed, compound helicopter demonstrator completed initial windtunnel testing earlier this year. The demonstrator is being built as part of the Clean Sky 2 European research programme. According to the company, the tests proved the viability of the design in terms of efficiency, sustainability and performance, paving the way for a preliminary design review expected by the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, the overall project has passed its first official milestone involving all core partners by reaching the end of its pre-design phase.
Building upon the achievements of the company-funded X3 technology demonstrator, Airbus Helicopters says its Clean Sky demonstrator will help refine the compound aerodynamic configuration and bring it closer to an operational design. The end objective is to meet future requirements for increased speed, better cost-efficiency, as well as substantial reductions in emissions and acoustic footprint. Flight-testing of the prototype is expected to start in 2019.
Jean-Brice Dumont, Airbus Helicopters Chief Technical Officer, says the goal is to break the cost barrier usually associated with increased speed and range and pave the way for new missions sets for 2030 and beyond.
Development of the Clean Sky 2 demonstrator relies on a European network of industrial partners. While Airbus Helicopters facilities in France, Germany, Spain and Poland are involved in areas such as structural and mechanical design, other countries like Romania, Italy and the UK are also involved in design and manufacturing work packages.