Every week I present to you a unique invention that has carved its mark in the book of speed and engineering records. It’s magnificent how technology is moving forward nowadays; especially when something new comes out. Engineers invent new creations, and by the time the news makes it to the media, other competitors have already made something better; although, that is not necessarily a bad thing because competition brings out the best in people. Therefore, let me introduce to you a new man-made craft for this week.
It is the X2 helicopter, one of the fastest helicopters ever build. According to wired.com, “the X2, a record-setting helicopter that can fly at more than 300 mph. It is a remarkable, even revolutionary, machine, with two main rotors stacked one atop the other and a pusher propeller on the tail. The combination makes the X2 as fast as it is nimble.” The X2 is “extremely responsive” to the slightest touch on the controls and trickier to fly due to its two world-shattering rotors. The X2 crushed all kind of records and numbers, according to spectrum.ieee.org, “the official speed record for helicopters was set in 1986, at 249 miles an hour. But the unofficial record belongs to a new type of helicopter, the X2, from Sikorsky Aircraft. In 2010, it exceeded 300 miles an hour.”
The X2 is not a normal helicopter, and its secret rests in its engineering and magnificent technology, according to defensereview.com, the X2 utilizes two rigid counter-rotating main rotors (the “coaxial” part). The “compound” part is provided by the X2′s pusher propeller, which provides a significant amount of forward thrust. The Sikorsky X2 compound helicopter technology demonstrator aircraft arguably represents the closest to a high-speed compound helicopter that has come into production by the United States in a long time. According to sikorsky.com, “these technologies include an integrated Fly-by-Wire system that allows the engine/rotor/proposer system to operate efficiently, with full control of rotor rpm throughout the flight envelope, high lift-to-drag rigid blades, low drag hub fairings, and Active Vibration Control. In addition, the aircraft was used as a ‘flying wind tunnel’ to determine the main rotor to proposer aerodynamic interaction, shaft angle optimization for performance, and blade tip clearance for a range of maneuvers.”
Ironically enough, Russia as usual, has kept its eyes on the X2 project and according to flightglobal.com; Russia looks set to join Euro copter and Sikorsky in the race to commercialize a high-speed helicopter, with the allocation of Rb3.6billion ($1.3 billion) in government cash to support development of concepts by Russian Helicopters’ Kamov and Mil design bureaux.
Now retired from flight, the X2 is headed to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Obviously, this helicopter contains brilliant technology and fine engineering, but honestly, I think the success behind these kinds of projects is not the technology or the computers on board, but it’s the ambition those men had when they decided to build it.