Demonstrator Takes Final Flight Making Way For The S-97 Raider
By Jim Douglas
July 15, 2011 - Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.’s X2 Technology
demonstrator has flown for the last time, the company
announced on Thursday. In an early morning demonstration
flight conducted from the company’s new Sikorsky
Innovations Center within its Development Flight Center,
the X2 Technology demonstrator gave invited guests one
last look at its technology in flight before officially
being retired and transitioning to its first
application, the S-97 Raider.
It was the twenty-third test flight of the award-winning X2 aircraft, which flew approximately 22 total hours and achieved a maximum cruise speed of 253 knots in level flight at its peak point in the program. That milestone, an unofficial speed record for a conventional helicopter, was achieved on Sept. 15, 2010.
flight is the culmination of a five-year, internally funded
program to expand the operational envelope of helicopters,” said
Sikorsky President Jeffrey Pino. “The results of this program
speak to the success of a rapid prototyping environment, where a
small empowered team was able to meet a specific number of very
challenging goals. We met these within a small budget and a
program also has helped to develop the next generation of
Sikorsky engineers, including some who are now in key positions
on the S-97 Raider™ program and the Firefly electric helicopter
program. Today, the entire Sikorsky workforce stands proud of
this accomplishment and what it means for the future of
rotorcraft aviation,” Pino said.
Raider helicopter program is the follow-on program to the X2
Technology demonstrator initiative. Sikorsky Vice President of
Research & Engineering Mark Miller said the S-97 Raider program
will design, build and fly two prototype light tactical
helicopters to enable the U.S. military to evaluate the
viability of a fast and maneuverable next-generation rotorcraft
for a variety of combat missions. A number of Sikorsky’s
military and commercial customers were on hand to observe
today’s final X2 flight.
“This program will produce two prototype assault/attack aircraft with six passenger cabins and the ability to carry armament,” Miller said. “In addition to the superior speed and maneuverability of X2 technology, these aircraft are designed to be capable of 10,000-foot hover out of ground effect on a 95-degree day. The future awaits this technology, and today we can say that we see it on the horizon.”
The X2 Technology
program began in 2005 when Sikorsky first committed resources and full
funding, ultimately $50 million, for the program’s development. Earlier
this year, the X2 Technology™ demonstrator team won the 2010 Robert J.
Collier Trophy, awarded annually to recognize the greatest achievements
in aeronautics or astronautics in America.
In addition to
winning the 2010 Collier Trophy, over the past two years the X2
Technology demonstrator received numerous accolades including the 2010
Hughes Award from the American Helicopter Society and Aviation Week ‘s
“One of the Top 10 Technologies to Watch” for 2010. In 2009, it won a
Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Innovator Award, and a Popular Science
“Best of What’s New” award. It also was named “One of 2009’s Best
Inventions” by Time.
Like the X2
Technology demonstrator, the S-97 Raider helicopter will be designed to
feature twin coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller
that enables an X2-designed helicopter to cruise at 220 knots. Other
innovative technologies include fly-by-wire flight controls, hub drag
reduction, active vibration control, and an integrated auxiliary
The X2 design is
scalable, opening up a variety of potential mission uses including
joint-multi-role such as combat search and rescue, armed aerial scout,
medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), attack, VIP transport, and offshore oil.
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 desirable attributes as excellent low speed handling, efficient hovering, and a seamless and simple transition to high speed.
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