Saturday, May 25, 2024

Airbus Helicopters’ high-speed Racer makes its first flight

Airbus Helicopters’ Racer demonstrator has successfully completed its first flight in Marignane, a significant milestone in the European Research Clean Sky 2 project. This project, a collaborative effort of 40 partners from 13 countries, aims to develop innovative and environmentally friendly aviation technologies. The successful flight of the Racer is a testament to the project’s progress and the capabilities of European aerospace technology. 

Over the next two years, the flight campaign will progressively open the aircraft’s flight envelope and demonstrate its impressive high-speed capabilities. 

The Racer demonstrator is the epitome of speed, cost-efficiency, and mission performance. Optimized for a cruise speed of more than 400 km/h, it aims to achieve the best trade-off between these performance measures. 

The Racer, with its innovative eco-mode propulsion system developed in collaboration with Safran Helicopter Engines, targets a fuel consumption reduction of around 20% compared to current generation helicopters of the same class. This significant reduction is made possible through aerodynamic optimization, a key feature of the Racer, which enhances its fuel efficiency. 

The hybrid-electrical eco-mode system is a game-changer that allows one of the two Aneto-1X engines to be paused while on cruise flight, thus contributing to cutting CO2 emissions. The Racer also aims to demonstrate how its particular architecture can contribute to lowering its operational acoustic footprint.

The Racer helicopter is built on an aerodynamic configuration that was validated by the Airbus Helicopters X3 technology demonstrator. In 2013, the X3 broke the speed record and pushed the limits for a helicopter by reaching an impressive 472 km/h.

The Racer aims to take the compound formula closer to an operational configuration and to offer increased capabilities for certain missions where high speed can be advantageous. 

“With its 90 patents, Racer is the perfect example of the level of innovation that can be achieved when European partners come together. This first flight is a proud moment for Airbus Helicopters and for our 40 partners in 13 countries,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “I look forward to watching this demonstrator pioneer high-speed capabilities and develop the eco-mode system that will contribute to reducing fuel consumption,” he added.