Sikorsky Aircraft’s coaxial X2 Technology demonstrator has achieved the 250-knot (287.69 mph) milestone that was established as the goal of the craft from its inception. The speed, which was achieved in level flight during a 1.1-hour flight on Wednesday, September 15, is an unofficial speed record for a helicopter, easily beating the current official world record that stands at 216.46 knots (249.1 mph) set by the British built Westland Lynx ZB-500 in 1986.
Earlier this year, the X2 demonstrator achieved a speed of 181 knots in a test flight – faster than the 160-170 knot (184-195 mph) speeds generally possible with conventional helicopters – but achieving a speed of 250 knots was always the ultimate aim for the X2 Technology program since its beginnings in 2005. The 250-knot milestone was reached at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center where the demonstrator also reached 260 knots (299.2 mph) in a very shallow dive during the flight.
“The aerospace industry today has a new horizon,” said Sikorsky President Jeffrey P. Pino. “The X2 Technology demonstrator continues to prove its potential as a game-changer, and Sikorsky Aircraft is proud to be advancing this innovative technology and to continue our company’s pioneering legacy.”
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 that 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.
Kevin Bredenbeck, Sikorsky’s Director of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot for the company and for its X2 Technology program, manned the milestone flight. Bredenbeck said the demonstrator has been performing well, meeting expectations of performance predictions and progressing with every test flight.
“Our primary key performance parameter has been met,” said Jim Kagdis, Program Manager for Sikorsky Advanced Programs. “The 250-knot milestone was established as the goal of the demonstrator from its inception. It’s exciting to imagine how our customers will use this capability.”