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Airbus Debuts Half-plane, Half-copter in Pursuit of Speed

Updated: May 23

Airbus Helicopters unveiled their experimental half-plane, half-helicopter. The Racer combines stability and speed for important tasks. Competing with tilt-rotor technologies to shape the future of rotorcraft.

The 200 million euro ($217 million) Racer is a one-of-a-kind demonstrator model that combines standard overhead rotors with two forward-facing propellors in an effort to combine stability with speed, reducing response times for important missions such as search-and-rescue.

"There are missions where the quickest possible access to the zone is vital. We often talk about the 'golden hour'," Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even told Reuters, referring to the window deemed most crucial for giving medical assistance.

Such designs could also be given for military development as NATO begins a significant research into next-generation helicraft, however much relies on how its planners define future requirements.

The Racer, which first flew away from the cameras in April, buzzed past an audience of 150 industry executives, politicians, and European Union representatives gathered at Airbus Helicopters' base in Marignane, southern France, where it has been slowly taking shape over the last seven years.

Airbus, the world's largest civil supplier, has spent years experimenting with new helicopter designs alongside competitors such as Lockheed's Sikorsky, which surpassed the previous speed record with its X2 prototype helicraft over a decade ago.

The Racer is the all-new successor to the Dauphin-based X3 demonstration, which Airbus secretly displayed at a neighbouring air base in 2010, and went on to set an unofficial speed record by outpacing the Sikorsky X2.

Both designs seek to overcome barriers to high-speed helicopter flight by combining the benefits of fixed-wing aircraft with those of conventional helicopters.

However, there is no agreement on how the helicopter of the future will look.

  • Airbus Helicopters unveiled their experimental half-plane, half-helicopter

  • The Racer combines stability and speed for important tasks.

  • Competing with tilt-rotor technologies to shape the future of rotorcraft


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