Aircraft

Eurocopter plans next-generation X4 helicopter

Eurocopter plans next-generati...
Eurocopter is set to build on its X3 demonstrator (pictured) with the X4 helicopter (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag)
Eurocopter is set to build on its X3 demonstrator (pictured) with the X4 helicopter (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag)
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Eurocopter is set to build on its X3 demonstrator (pictured) with the X4 helicopter (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag)
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Eurocopter is set to build on its X3 demonstrator (pictured) with the X4 helicopter (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag)

Eurocopter is set to build on the success of its X3 demonstrator with plans to introduce an advanced X4 helicopter into service in 2017. Designed to replace the AS365 and EC155 Dauphin medium twin helicopters, Eurocopter is keeping its cards close to its chest in regards to the X4 concept under development, but has said it will feature a radically different cockpit.

Speaking at Heli-Expo 2011 in Orlando, Florida last year, Eurocopter President & CEO Lutz Bertling said, ""Eurocopter is looking for a very significant increase in payload and performance, with an aircraft that has enhanced mission capabilities, is more environmentally friendly, and provides a significantly higher level of assistance for the pilot along with increased flight safety."

Bertling added that the Turbomeca-powered X4's configuration will dramatically transform the traditional configuration of a helicopter saying, "sitting in the X4, one thing will immediately become evident: The cockpit as we know it today will not be there."

Aviation Week has also quoted Bertling saying the X4 will be introduced in a two-step approach, with the aircraft to be introduced in 2017 not featuring all the elements of the final X4. A second, updated variant is set to follow in 2020.

"We truly believe it will be a game changer. With the X4 we intend to improve noise by 70 percent and reduce fuel consumption by 30 percent," Bertling told Aviation Week.

In the meantime Eurocopter will also continue flight tests of the X3 demonstrator, which are due to resume later this month. The company also plans to take the long-range hybrid helicopter to the U.S. for demonstration flights sometime around June/July 2012.

Source: Eurocopter, Aviation Week

4 comments
Suvilo
\"we intend to improve noise by 70 percent and reduce fuel consumption by 30 percent\" that is the standard illusion, told everytime when a new development starts.
Lets wait and see. If this will really be produced I bet noise will be improved by 0 percent and noise will be up by 20 percent.
Because this thing flies faster while using a a conventional gyrocopter layout with a more stable main rotor drive. And more complicated rotor head. And two instead of one pushing engine (better controlability).
So, this is nothing but a bigger, more complicated gyrocopter.
by the way, the two pushing props increase the risk of accidents enormously. Operating costs will be much higher, compared to a helicopter or gyrocopter.
VoiceofReason
I don\'t see this as a big improvement. One pusher prop in the back would be more efficient. They should have just copied the AH-56 Cheyenne. It\'s 45 year old design updated would be better.
Bill Bennett
yes voice of reason, but then there would be no props near the cabin for a model to walk into and make news for months
Slowburn
re; Suvilo
Given that we have no idea of the final layout of the X-4 and the X-3 does not appear to have had noise or fuel consumption as design priorities improving noise by 70 percent and reducing fuel consumption by 30 percent should not present a problem. having the counter torque rotor(s) where the pilot can keep an eye on them would increase the safety in rough field landings. ............................................................................................................................
re; VoiceofReason
The AH-56 Cheyenne had some problems that appear to have been adequately worked out it does not mean that there is not a better way. The cleaner air that the X-3s counter torque/thrust rotors make for greater efficiency but I think it was for balance. ............................................................................................................................
Getting ride of the cockpit? do they plan on a neural interface, or fully autonomous flight?