One of the true "reveals" of the 2008 HAI Trade Show was Sikorsky´s surprising (but delightful) decision to pull their X2 research aircraft off the line (where it is preparing for first flight) and bring it to the show. This was the first major public venue in which the on-again, off-again development project that could change the nature of rotorcraft design had seen the light of day.
The X2 Technology Demonstrator is designed to demonstrate how a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 knots, while retaining desirable helicopter attributes, including excellent low speed handling, efficient hovering and autorotation safety, and a seamless and simple transition to high speed.
"The X2 Technology Demonstrator is an integrated suite of technologies intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter. As we continue to work to prove out and mature the technologies that will allow the X2 Technology Demonstrator to become a viable product, we are focused on testing its limits and finding out where this technology will take us," said Jeffrey P. Pino, Sikorsky President.
"This could be a ´game changer´ in the industry. We are diligently pursuing this as a research project. We are testing the limits and pioneering this exciting innovation." In development at Sikorsky for several years, the X2 Technology Demonstrator sports fly-by-wire flight controls, counter-rotating rigid rotor blades, hub drag reduction, active vibration control, and an integrated auxiliary propulsion system.
Peter Grant, Sikorsky Senior Manager of Advanced Programs, noted the X2 Technology Demonstrator has continued to make progress toward first flight.
"Throughout 2007, the aircraft made excellent additional build and subsystem test progress, re-entering vehicle ground testing in November 2007. Extensive test instrumentation is also being installed as preparation for its first flight," Grant said. As ANN reported, Sikorsky Aircraft first announced X2 Technology in June 2005. After being grounded in 2006 during a 10-week machinists strike, Sikorsky resumed development of the X2 next-generation helicopter last year. The X2 Technology Demonstrator is built as a rapid prototyping collaboration effort with Sikorsky subsidiary Schweizer Aircraft. The project is solely funded by Sikorsky.