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Paris Air Show: The need for speed

20th June 2017 - 12:27 by Helen Haxell in Paris

Paris Air Show: The need for speed

Airbus Helicopters has revealed its high-speed demonstrator, dubbed Racer, as part of the Clean Sky 2 European programme. The company unveiled a model of Racer in its aerodynamic configuration.

Racer,  which stands for Rapid and Cost-Effective Rotorcraft, has an average speed in excess of 220kt and will be optimised for a cruise speed of over 400km/h.

The company would not divulge further details of the maximum speed, although it did disclose that this would be dependent on the operators and their missions. For example, EMS operators would need speed for their missions unlike an urban transporter.

Despite the demonstrator name, Jean-Brice Dumont, Airbus Helicopters' executive VP of engineering, said that it was not solely about speed, commenting: ‘It’s about efficiency, not about being the fastest.'

When asked by Shephard when the maximum speed would be known, Tomasz Krysinski, VP research and innovation, said they 'will reveal it just after we beat the new record'.

The X3 reached speeds of 472km/h and it is suspected that Racer will be quicker.

Airbus Helicopters has utilised the lessons learnt from the X3 demonstrator in application to Racer emphasising the ‘compound aerodynamic configuration’ from the former model. The new demonstrator is a combination of other Airbus models, Dumont explained.

‘X3 was innovative in the formula… but we have designed specific parts. Racer is not exactly a clean sheet design but we are aiming for the simplest, most effective design from the formula that we have demonstrated with X3,’ he said.

The range of the helicopter will be more than 450km/400nm, dependent on the speed, and the aircraft will be powered by two Safran RTM322 engines. The aircraft will be operational for EMS, SAR and parapublic missions.

The super-medium demonstrator similar to the X3 has ‘pusher’ lateral rotors that are optimised for performance and low sound levels. 

Furthermore, Dumont said the pusher also adds to the safety for passengers entering and leaving the aircraft. Racer is also equipped with box-wings these offer lift in cruise mode and enhance accessibility safety.

‘It clearly minimises the negative impact downwash of the rotor… by reducing the vertical signature  of the wing,’ Dumont commented.

In relation to the cost-effective side of the aircraft, Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury said: ‘We think the market is able to accept 25% additional cost for 50% additional speed… speed has a value but customers are not ready to buy speed at any cost for the missions they perform.'

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