Fastest Helicopter Flies Even Faster

Sikorsky's X2 breaks its own record, reaching 463 km/h

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Fastest Helicopter Flies Even Faster

In a recent article on this site, a current Sikorsky Aircraft engineer, Thomas Lawrence, and a retired Sikorsky hotshot, David Jenney, detailed how they designed the legendary aircraft company's high-speed helicopter

Sikorsky's flight test engineers were pushing their demonstrator vehicle, the X2, to progressively higher speeds, topping out in August at 435 km/h. The official speed record, maintained by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), is a mere 400 km/h and was set in 1986. Sikorsky was well past that when the September issue of IEEE Spectrum went to press, though the company has yet to jump the hurdles needed to have its new speed record recognized by the FAI.

Sikorsky had good reason to dawdle: On September 15, another test flight took the X2 to 463 km/h (287 mph). According to Lawrence, the speed was limited only by the amount of power available, rather than the helicopter's overall load or vibrations -- issues that have plagued previous attempts at building aircraft capable of both flying fast and performing vertical take-off and landing. To prove the point, the test pilot took the X2 into a shallow dive and reached 481 km/h.

The testing isn't finished yet, Thomas says, so the X2 may well be capable of even faster flight.

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