Eurocopter X³

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Ila12 X3 0600 b1.jpg
Airbus Helicopters X³ in flight
Role Experimental compound helicopter
National origin Multinational
Manufacturer Eurocopter
Airbus Helicopters
First flight 6 September 2010
Status Museum exhibit
Number built 1
Developed from Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin
Eurocopter EC155

The Eurocopter X³ (X-Cubed) is an experimental high-speed compound helicopter developed by Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter). A technology demonstration platform for "high-speed, long-range hybrid helicopter" or H³ concept,[1] the X³ achieved 255 knots (472 km/h; 293 mph) in level flight on 7 June 2013, setting an unofficial helicopter speed record.[2][3] In June 2014, it was placed in a French air museum in the village of Saint-Victoret.

Design and development[edit]

Eurocopter X³


The X³ demonstrator is based on the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin[1] helicopter, with the addition of short span wings each fitted with a tractor propeller, having different pitch to counter the torque effect of the main rotor.[1][4][5] Conventional helicopters use tail rotors to counter the torque effect.[6] The tractor propellers are gear driven from the two main turboshaft engines which also drive the five-bladed main rotor system, taken from a Eurocopter EC155.[1][5]

Guest pilots describe the X³ flight as smooth,[5][7] but the X³ does not have passive or active anti-vibration systems and can fly without stability augmentation systems,[1][8] unlike the Sikorsky X2.[9] The helicopter is designed to prove the concept of a high-speed helicopter which depends on slowing the rotor speed[5] (by 15%)[1] to avoid drag from the advancing blade tip, and to avoid retreating blade stall by unloading the rotor while a small wing[10][11][12] provides 40–80% lift instead.[1][5][13][14] The X³ can hover with a pitch attitude between minus 10 and plus 15 degrees.[15] Its bank range is 40 degrees in hover, and is capable of flying at bank angles of 120 to 140 degrees.[16][17] During testing the aircraft demonstrated a rate of climb of 5,500 feet per minute and high-G turn rates of 2Gs at 210 knots.[18][19]


flying at the 2012 ILA Berlin Air Show

The X³ first flew on 6 September 2010 from French Direction générale de l'armement facility at Istres-Le Tubé Air Base.[citation needed]

On 12 May 2011 the X³ demonstrated a speed of 232 knots (267 mph; 430 km/h) while using less than 80 percent of available power.[8][20][21][22][23]

In May 2012, it was announced that the Eurocopter X³ development team had received the American Helicopter Society's Howard Hughes Award for 2012.[24]

Eurocopter demonstrated the X³ in the United States during the summer of 2012, the aircraft logging 55 flight hours, with a number of commercial and military operators being given the opportunity to fly the aircraft.[25]

With an aerodynamic fairing installed on the rotor head,[26] the X³ demonstrated a speed of 255 knots (293 mph; 472 km/h) in level flight and 263 knots (303 mph; 487 km/h) in a shallow dive on 7 June 2013,[27][28] beating the Sikorsky X2's unofficial record set in September 2010, and thus becoming the world's fastest non-jet augmented compound helicopter.


Eurocopter suggested that a production H³ application could appear as soon as 2020.[25] The company had also previously expressed an interest in offering an H³ technology based solution for the United States' Future Vertical Lift program, with EADS North America submitting bid to build a technology demonstrator under the US Army's Joint Multi Role (JMR) program,[29][30] but later withdrew due to cost[31] and because Eurocopter might have to transfer X³ intellectual property to the US,[32] and Eurocopter chose to focus on the Armed Aerial Scout instead.[33][34] Ultimately the company was not downselected for the JMR effort,[35] and the AAS program was cancelled.[36]

Eurocopter saw the offshore oil market[31] and Search and rescue community as potential customers for X³ technology. An X³-based unpressurised compound helicopter called LifeRCraft is also among the projects planned under the European Union's €4 billion ($5.44 billion) Clean Sky 2 research program as one of two high-speed rotorcraft flight demonstrators.[26][37][38][39] Airbus began development of the hybrid composite helicopter with a 4.6-litre V-8 piston engine[40] in 2014,[41] froze the design in 2016 to start building in 2017,[40] and plans to fly it in 2019.[42]

The X³ was moved to Musée de l’air et de l’espace in 2014 for public display.[43]


RACER model at Paris Air Show 2017

The Airbus RACER (Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft) is a development revealed at the June 2017 Paris air show, final assembly will start in 2019 for a 2020 first flight. Cruising up to 400 km/h (216 kn), it aims for a 25% cost reduction per distance over a conventional helicopter.


Eurocopter X³ at ILA Berlin Air Show 2012

Data from FlightGlobal[44]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Gross weight: 5,200 kg (11,464 lb) [43]
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01/9a[45] turboshaft engines, 1,693 kW (2,270 hp) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 12.6 m (41 ft 4 in)
  • Main rotor area: 124.7 m2 (1,342 sq ft)
  • Propellers: 5-bladed (two tractor propellers gear driven from main engines).


  • Maximum speed: 472 km/h (293 mph, 255 kn) at roughly 10,000 ft (3,048 m)[28]
  • Cruise speed: 407 km/h (253 mph, 220 kn) [20]
  • Service ceiling: 3,810 m (12,500 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 28 m/s (5,500 ft/min) [47][48][49]
  • Tip speed: 0.91 Mach[5]
  • Autorotation: 2,800 f.p.m[5]

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


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External links[edit]