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DARPA is working on revolutionizing rotorcraft technology

Helicopters and other rotorcraft are impressive bits of technology, but the only place where they match the performance of fixed-wing aircraft is in bad 1980s television. That may soon change with DARPA announcing the selection of four companies to compete in the next phase of its Vertical Take Off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program. The four companies are tasked with developing unmanned demonstrator aircraft designed to increase the performance of VTOL rotor aircraft while reducing their complexity.  Read More

Eurocopter's X3 reached a level flight speed of 255 knots over the south of France on June...

Eurocopter has announced a new pair of speed records set by its hybrid helicopter demonstrator, the X3. Piloted by Hervé Jammayrac, the X3 reached a level flight speed of 255 knots over the south of France on June 7, eclipsing the 250 knots (463 km/h) set by Sikorsky's X2 demonstrator back in 2010. The X3 reached 263 knots several days beforehand, achieved during a dive rather than level flight, also besting the X2's record in descent – by a single knot.  Read More

Artist’s rendering of the JMR-FVL concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Sikorsky

Sikorsky’s coaxial X2 Demonstrator may have taken its last flight, but the rotorcraft’s design will serve as the basis for a new aircraft proposed by Sikorsky and Boeing. The companies will submit a joint proposal to build the new aircraft for Phase 1 of the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) program that aims to deliver the next generation of vertical lift utility and attack aircraft.  Read More

Hovering for 11.4 seconds has secured a place in the record books for the Gamera team, and...

A biology student has just hovered her way into the record books in a four-rotor, human-powered helicopter named after a giant flying turtle from Japanese kaiju movies. Gamera was built to try and claim the American Helicopter Society's Sikorsky Prize, that was set up in 1980 and has yet to be claimed. The team's first flights in May resulted in a 4.2-second U.S. national record, and now the record page has had to be rewritten again after the young pilot's frantic combination of hand and foot pedaling action kept Gamera in the air for nearly three times longer, during the recent summer flight sessions.  Read More

Sikorsky's new virtual reality center will be used to help identify design problems for th...

The Sikorsky CH-53K heavy lift helicopter currently being developed for the U.S. Marine Corps will contain more than 20,000 individually designed parts. This means building an experimental prototype of the aircraft ends up being one hell of a complicated three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. And if just one of the pieces doesn’t fit where it’s supposed to, it can cost millions of extra dollars. To find production and maintenance issues before things progress too far, Sikorsky has unveiled a virtual reality center that the company hopes will save it time and money in final assembly of the aircraft.  Read More

The X2 on its 250-knot milestone flight on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010

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.  Read More

Sikorsky Project Firefly technology demonstrator

Officially announced at AirVenture 2010, Sikorsky's Project Firefly sets out to demonstrate the feasibility and showcase the benefits of electrically powered helicopters. The technology demonstrator is based on an S-300C light helicopter, with a 190-horsepower electric motor replacing the standard piston-engine and lithium ion battery packs added to either side of the cabin. The result is a significantly more efficient system that – although it's expected to fall short of typical helicopter performance when the first flight takes place later this year – is just the tip of the iceberg for the new era of manned electric rotorcraft.  Read More

X2 Technology demonstrator reaches 181 knots in flight #12 at West Palm Beach facility

Sikorsky Aircraft’s goal of producing the fastest helicopter ever built has taken another step towards becoming a reality. Its coaxial X2 Technology demonstrator has achieved a speed of 181 knots (208 mph) in a test flight – faster than the 160-170 knot speeds generally possible with conventional helicopters and edging closer to the eventual aim of delivering 250 knot (288 mph) cruising speeds.  Read More

The Challis Heliplane concept

Conventional helicopters are incredibly useful vehicles in many short-range scenarios - but their asymmetrical aerodynamics enforce a fairly low terminal speed limit of around 150mph, making them less than ideal for longer-range missions. Tilt-rotor aircraft like the Falx and Osprey, and coaxial 'copters like the Sikorsky X2 are tackling the problem from different angles, but both result in complicated and expensive solutions - which is what makes the new Challis Heliplane concept quite remarkable. Still in early stages, the Challis uses a very simple design to balance the lift forces of a helicopter and bring top speeds of over 300mph into reach. And wait 'til you see this thing accelerate!  Read More

Sikorsky’s X2 Demonstrator First Flight

August 28, 2008 Three years ago we wrote of Sikorsky’s intention to build a technology demonstrator for its X2 Coaxial helicopter technology, and earlier this year we expanded on the principals of the revolutionary aircraft. Today, we’re pleased to announce “it flies.” Earlier this week, Sikorsky successfully completed the first flight of its X2 Demonstrator, maneuvering the prototype aircraft through hover, forward flight, and a hover turn, in a test flight that lasted approximately 30 minutes.  Read More

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