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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: Sikorsky’s X2 Technology Demonstrator Achieves Milestone

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Stratford, Conn.-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation’s X2 Technology demonstrator has completed two test flights that included full engagement of the unique propeller for the first time. In one hour of testing conducted in two flights, the aircraft flew at speeds reaching 52 knots in one test and 42 knots with the propeller providing forward thrust in the second flight. The X2 Technology demonstrator is designed to reach speeds of 250 knots, twice as fast as an average helicopter travels today. The demonstrator has accumulated more than three hours of successful flight time at Sikorsky’s facility in Horseheads, N.Y. The aircraft will relocate to the company’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., before the end of July for continued test flights leading up to the 250-knot speed record.

The X2 Technology demonstrator combines an integrated suite of technologies intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter.

It is designed to demonstrate a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 knots, while retaining such helicopter attributes as good low speed handling, efficient hovering and autorotation safety, and a seamless transition to high speeds. Sikorsky is maturing this technology in preparation for emerging missions, including rapid air medical response for the civil market and reconnaissance, attack, and special operations missions for the military market.

"The program is progressing extremely well both technologically and from a future applicability standpoint," says Mark Miller, vice president of research and engineering.

"Certainly we’ve got much more to do, but interest continues to grow among both the military and commercial sectors in how this technology might improve current operations and enable new missions that today are simply not possible with the current helicopter flight limitations."

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