If you want a helicopter to be faster and more efficient in forward flight, why not just give it some wings for added aerodynamic lift, and a set of propellers (aka lateral rotors) for forward thrust? That was the thinking behind the Eurocopter X3 demonstrator aircraft. This Tuesday at the Paris Air Show, Airbus Helicopters announced its plans to build on that concept, in the form of the code-named Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft – or Racer, for short.
Being developed as part of Europe's multi-organization Clean Sky 2 initiative, Racer is described as being "the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability and mission performance."
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It will be optimized for a low acoustic signature, along with a cruising speed of over 400 km/h (249 mph). Both its props and its main rotor will be driven by two RTM322 engines, although an "eco mode" may allow one of those engines to be electrically stopped and then restarted while in flight, in order to save fuel and thus increase range.
Adding to its efficiency will be a lightweight hybrid metallic-composite airframe.
Final assembly of the Racer demonstrator should begin in 2019, with a first flight taking place the following year. The aircraft is teased in the following video.