June 2, 2008 Helicopter development is hampered by the fact that for so long it has been a zero sum game, with designers only able to improve forward speed at the expense of hovering ability and low speed control, and vice versa. This, combined with other inherent design restrictions, has kept the top cruise speed for conventional helicopters at roughly 150—170 knots. Looking to overcome these limitations, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is working on a coaxial design aimed at realizing a cruising speed of 250 knots. The X2 technology demonstrator can hover, land vertically, manoeuvre at low speeds, and transition seamlessly from hovering to forward flight. In the words of Sikorsky’s president, Jeffrey Pino, it could prove to be a real ‘game changer’ for the industry.
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