Airbus Celebrates First Flight of Racer Compound Helo

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Airbus Celebrates First Flight of Racer Compound Helo

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The high-speed helicopter’s design has already generated 90 patents

The Airbus Helicopters Racer high-speed compound helicopter made its first flight today in Marignane, France, flying for about 30 minutes and signaling the launch of a two-year test campaign.

Powered by two Safran Aneto-1X turboshaft engines, Racer is designed to fly at more than 215 knots while burning about 20% less fuel compared with current-generation helicopters. Racer is part of the European Clean Sky 2 research program and involves 40 partners in 13 countries.

The rotorcraft features a double-wing design with lateral pusher rotors on each wingtip. In cruise flight, Safran’s Eco-Mode hybrid-electric system allows one of the two engines to be switched to standby mode, according to Airbus, “generating further fuel savings of up to 30%.”

Airbus validated the aerodynamic configuration of Racer with research on its X3 technology demonstrator, which combined fixed wings with lateral rotors and a main rotor system. In 2013, the demonstrator broke the helicopter speed record when it flew at 255 knots.

“With its 90 patents, Racer is the perfect example of the level of innovation that can be achieved when European partners come together,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even. “I look forward to watching this demonstrator pioneer high-speed capabilities and develop the eco-mode system that will contribute to reducing fuel consumption.”

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