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Monday, September 20, 2010

Sikorsky Breaks 250-knot Barrier with X2

In case you happened to have been sequestered beneath the cone-of-silence last week, you might have missed the fact that Sikorsky set a new milestone in rotorcraft aviation by flying their X2 Technology Demonstrator past the 250kts mark, and in so doing, may have set the wheels in motion to change the helicopter market forever. The X2 flew at 250 knots true airspeed (288 mph) at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach test facility early last Wednesday morning. In addition to achieving that milestone, the coaxial aircraft with pusher prop also met key performance parameters by demonstrating its active vibration control system as well as its fly-by-wire technology.

Exclusive RW Interview Directly Following Game-Changing Flight
Sikorsky President Jeffrey Pino, Innovations Director Chris Van Buiten and Mike Miller, VP of research and engineering, talked exclusively with Rotor & Wing Editor-in-Chief Joy Finnegan on Wednesday about the flight, the X2 Technology and where it all goes from here. “It’s been an exciting couple of years,” Pino told Rotor & Wing Editor Joy Finnegan. “Safety was our number one priority. We’ve gone from hover...to 250 knots in 17 flights and 16.5 hours.”

Click here to listen to the full 10-minute interview: RW Exclusive Pino X2 Interview

With its primary key performance parameter (KPP) of hitting 250 knots (288 mph) achieved, Sikorsky’s X2 team is turning its focus now toward additional test flights over the course of the next three months before wrapping up the demonstration phase for the aircraft. During a conference call with reporters last Thursday morning, Jim Kagdis, program manager for Sikorsky’s Advanced Programs division, explained that the manufacturer wants to “round out and make sure we can also claim that we have achieved those other KPPs.” Looking forward, he continued, “we have probably about four more flights. There are two acoustic flights that we want to reap the data from, and then also, the aircraft is fully configured now for its highest speeds except for the [de-rotation] sail fairing in our rotor system. When we integrate the sail fairing, there will probably be two additional flights.” After those tests are complete, Kagdis added, “we will declare success, we will have the data that we desired and needed, and we will re-target our focus—the demonstrator has successfully performed its mission, now how are we going to take this data and technology that we developed and apply it to future concepts.”

According to Sikorsky, a military configuration of the X2 will reach initial operating capability (IOC) “in the 2020 timeframe.” Also on Thursday’s call were Kevin Bredenbeck, director of flight operations and chief pilot; Steve Weiner, director of engineering sciences and chief engineer for the X2; and Steve Cizewski, X2 program manager.


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