We have come a long way from the time Leonardo Da Vinci created the first design of a machine in 1480, which was, back then, described as the ‘aerial screw’. That was the beginning of a new evolution. Many designs and models were developed on the concept ever since. But it was in 1939 the first working model of The Helicopter took its first flight. It was designed by Mr. Igor I. Sikorsky and ever since the developments and utilities of the helicopters only increased.
One of the main utilities that the helicopters were being used for was for transportation of goods which required the hovering feature of the helicopters. Hovering is, indeed, one of the main features that separate the helicopters from the fixed-wing aircrafts. However, traditionally, heavy-lift helicopters have been trying to maintain balance between the hover performance and forward speed. The forward speed gets compromised if the hover is to be improved and vice-versa.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., in June 2005, announced plans to solve this issue with the X2 Technology™. It refers to a suite of technologies Sikorsky will apply to achieve new levels of speed and performance in coaxial helicopters.
This technology includes an integrated Fly-by-Wire system that allows the engine/rotor/propulsor 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 will be used as a ‘flying wind tunnel’ to determine the main rotor to propulsor aerodynamic interaction, shaft angle optimization for performance, and blade tip clearance for a range of maneuvers. This will allow optimization of the X2 TECHNOLOGY™ suite for future products.
Aiming to achieve the highest speed ever recorded for a helicopter, the X2 Technology demonstrator combines an integrated suite of technologies intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counterrotating coaxial rotor helicopter. It is designed to demonstrate a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 knots while retaining such desirable attributes as excellent low speed handling, efficient hovering, and a seamless and simple transition to high speed.
Among the innovative technologies the X2 Technology demonstrator employs are the Fly-by-wire flight controls, Counter-rotating rigid rotor blades, Hub drag reduction, Active vibration control and an Integrated auxiliary propulsion system.
Sikorsky selected the term X2 Technology in order to: describe a class of helicopters with a coaxial design and to describe the multiplying effects (2X, or times 2) of applying a suite of modern technologies to coaxial helicopters. These technologies include new rotor blade designs, advanced flight control laws, transmissions with greater horsepower to weight performance and the ability to seamlessly transfer power from the main rotor to the aft propulser, and active vibration control.
The X2 Technology program, based at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in Florida, to date has achieved a maximum test flight speed of 106 knots. Sikorsky has won much recognition for this concept which could change the dynamics of the helicopters across the world.
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