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back to article X2 triplex super-chopper in final flight

The (ahem) revolutionary X2 prototype copter, which can fly much faster than a normal helicopter but still make vertical landings and takeoffs, has made its last flight. Manufacturer Sikorsky now plans to produce an S-97 military version of the speedy chopper for sale to the US Army. The X2 demonstrator airborne for the first …

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Lewis, no mention of the Eurocopter X3, same performance .. oh but of course that's European, only US hardware counts.

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Angel

The X3 is not yet ready for commercial use, is it?

The Sikorsky X2 is ready for commercial exploitation now (as the S-97 to the military).

Sour grapes... :-)

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Rotodyne

The Fairey Rotodyne could do about 170 knots in 1958. It could be a lot faster now.

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re: Rotodyne

And quieter - the noise it made is what ultimately contributed to its demise.

I've often wondered why the Rotodyne design was never resurrected.

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Silver badge

Fairey vanished

Thanks to the unique way in which the British government has always managed to bugger up our industries, in 1960 Fairey was forcibly merged with Westland along with Saunders-Roe and the helicopter division of Bristol Aeroplane.

Westland not only had their own helicopter designs but licensed technology from the Americans. The rotodyne was dead in their hands, but they held all the IP.

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M7S
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Does the single engine exclude it from many civilian applications?

IIRC there's some CAA regulation about flying over buildings/built up areas.

If I am correct, that's the fast corporate 'copter market gone then, in the UK at least.

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@M7S

There are CAA regulations for all sorts of things, but none that prevent helicopters (single-engine or not) from overflying built-up areas.

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@Angus Wood

ANO Rule 5

Bit rusty on this, but IIRC it stipulates a minimum height for single engined aircraft such that they must be able to glide far enough to make an emergency landing.

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Pint

It's short...

...the nice thing about a helicopter is that (provided the pilot is properly trained) you can make a safe autorotational landing in a VERY small space and from a low altitude. For your typical light utility helicopter, a decent parking lot will do if there's a clear approach.

Of course in a built up area wire and such are a huge issue but that applies to fixed wing too...

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Coat

Just how big is the chopper

if it's got space for "...six-passenger cabins..."?

Presumably there'll be a first class cabin for the top-brass, business class for ordinary officers, premium cattle class for the NCO's, cattle class for the ordinary grunts, a shop or casino, and one for securing nabbed high-value targets.

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Black Helicopters

Smaller is sometimes better.

Think of this in a Scout / Attack role.

While the V-22 can bring in a bunch of troops and supplies, a smaller fast chopper that can come in and work in a support role is going to be needed.

Imagine having an LZ where the V-22 come in and land and having air support buzzing around quickly taking out enemy positions.

If your V-22 can do 220+ knots, you're going to need choppers that can keep up.

You can arm it with hell fire missiles and a chain gun.

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Anonymous Coward

Six passenger cabins

JC's suggestion of 'scum class' might be useful too (although I'm not sure the outside loo would work well at altitude).

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Go

About perfect for dust-off

"Six passengers" is about right for a crew chief, paramedic, and two, maybe three stretcher cases. In short, a high-altitude, high-speed dust-off chopper. I daresay the troops would love that rather muchly.

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Black Helicopters

Oh, good: more moving parts!

Which can then fail and cause this over-rotored abomination to fall out of the sky.

Helicopters are wonderful when all the parts remain attached and work as designed.

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Wonderful?

No helicopter can fly. They're so ugly that the ground repels them.

Don't believe it? Just ask any fixed wing pilot.

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Coffee/keyboard

You sir....

...are on my no pick up list. (Did I mention I flew SAR back in the day?)

Actually this bird is probably not much more complex than other twin-rotor designs; CERTAINLY it has fewer moving parts than the Osprey (which according to my sources can neither glide NOR autorotate, leving the poor SOBs inside flying a Frigidaire if they have a dual engine failure).

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Any helocopter is...

... 10000 parts flying in close formation. This one is no more risky than any other multi-rotor design.

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Over rotored?

I dunno... With a single rotor helicopter you've still got the tail rotor to cope with the torque of the main rotor.

Besides, aren't contra rotating co axe main blade helicopters more stable?

I'd love to see the controls and would love to know how one flies one of these as apposed to a more traditional chopper.

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Holmes

Speaking of helicopters

Has Lewis noticed there's been news this week re the Scottish Chinook incident ?

Or is this like Haddon-Cave's Nimrod inquiry, never to pass Lewis's keyboard?

I'd mention the Fukushima food restrictions too but that's guaranteed not to get posted.

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Ceiling?

"Such hot-and-high performance would be very attractive to US and allied forces serving now in the baking highlands of Afghanistan. Whether they'll actually get it is another matter."

What are the chances of this being operational at Afghan altitudes?

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Bronze badge

Hot & High performance is all very well...

but it tends to get lost when the customer insists on filling the aircraft up with armour plate... such that it needs to taxi forwards in order to take off as it can't cope with taking off inside the downdraft created by its own rotors when trying to take off vertically...

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WTF?

What about Kamov?

They've had twin rotor helicopters in active service since the 60s! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamov

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FAIL

Totally different

Read up on conventional eggbeaters/coax helicopters, then read up on ABC and this project... they look the same but this works differently. Most coax birds (like the Kamovs) use the superimposed rotors to create a much more compact layout thanks to the rotors being smaller and no requirement for a tail rotor-- all very handy if you're putting your helicopter inside a bitty little hangar on a ship. These designs have conventional flapping blades without the refinements that let this bird go so much faster.

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Facepalm

Ultra-stiff rotors

Ultra-stiff = brittle. What happens when these things encounter small-arms fire?

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Not really...

"""Ultra-stiff = brittle."""

If you're thinking in terms of metal, then that's true, to an extent. But it's absolutely wrong when you're talking about composites, which I imagine is what they used for these blades. I imagine that small arms fire would cause some combination of a hole and some delamination, but the nature of the material tends to prevent the propagation of fractures, when designed properly.

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Robust rotors.

Nothing new about them.

Most current military helis can take multiple hits of light cannon fire to the rotors - up to 23mm - and still fly. Rigidity of the rotor isn't going to make it shatter like glass.

Here, an example of the kinds of damage a small heli can absorb and still fly:

http://www.pbase.com/denham/battle_damaged_oh58

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Coat

Airwolf

Stringfellow Hawke would totally own this....

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Thumb Up

LOL, yeah.

Airwolf is the Chuck Norris of aircraft.

It'd own a whole flight of FA37's easy.

Check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDrPkJrW5zc

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as I'm watching the Airwolf series again this week

the first episode described Airwolf's techno-speak reason for defeating retreating-blade stall..that the fatter winglets helped turn the fuselage into an aerodynamic lifting body at speed (as well as weapons pods). During "turbo boost" the main rotors are disengaged, and are reengaged when "turbo" is completed and the aircraft has slowed to something more reasonable than Mach 1.

(yeah that's in the episode, not some revisionist fanfic-so there was at least some thought to address it...unlike justifications for "parsecs" being an acceptable time measurement :P )

Of course for that to work there would need to be control surfaces to use other than the rotors (none visible) and the stresses on rotor reengagement would be ferocious.

Still I wonder if the lifting body fuselage idea holds any merit.

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