Wednesday, June 22, 2011

High-Speed Helicopter Supremacy

In the battle for high-speed helicopter supremacy, two industry heavyweights SIKORSKY and EUROPCOPTER are pushing the limits with dramatically different approaches. Sikorsky’s X2 employs a par of counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher prop, while Eurocopter’s aptly-named ‘X3′ uses a hybrid design of turbine engines and forward-facing propellers mounted on small wings.

Why the need for speed? The battle is being driven by military demands, although both companies cite civilian applications like SAR (search and rescue), medical evacuation, border patrol and coast guard duties. While top-speeds are important, costs will also be an essential factor.

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