Eurocopter’s X3 hybrid helicopter has taken to American skies for the first time after being transported stateside aboard a chartered cargo jetliner early last week. The X3 is in the U.S. as part of a month-long tour in which Eurocopter will demonstrate the aircraft's operational capabilities for civil and military use.
To date, testing has been conducted from the Istres Flight Test Center in southern France, where the X3 demonstrator previously surpassed its original speed target of 220 knots (407 km/h or 253 mph) by maintaining a true airspeed of 232 knots (430 km/h or 267 mph) in level flight, while using less than 80 percent of available power.
The first U.S flight took place on June 15 in Texas, ahead of the official start of the U.S. demonstration tour, which kicks off on June 20 in which it will visit five cities.The tour will see Eurocopter’s test team demonstrating the helicopter’s full hover flight capabilities and cruise speeds of a turboprop-powered aircraft. This is enabled by the aircraft’s two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings.
During its U.S. tour, the X3 will be based at the Grand Prairie, Texas, headquarters of Eurocopter’s U.S. subsidiary, American Eurocopter, which is where the tour will kick off on June 20. While the remaining cities are yet to be revealed, Eurocopter is also making the X3 available for flight evaluations for selected U.S. armed forces personnel and civilian operators.
The following video shows the X3's first flight in the U.S.