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Eurocopter X3 high speed helicopter

yasotay

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VTOLicious said:
...there would be resistance to making a European Prime the lead
That's for sure! ;D

but its current dynamic layout has a significant number of risks when considered for tactical military operations
What exactly do you mean?

Just for the sake of completeness: I'm no X3 fanboy...what I see is a very well performing tech demonstrator based on a proven production model - imho the perfect performance comparision and a solid basis to start follow on developments.
My concerns as to the tactical applicability of the current layout are twofold, both in regards to the dynamic components. The low-slung position of the props is a safety hazard in a field environment. Operating the aircraft at night to do insertion and extraction of troops puts soldiers at risk of walking or running into the propellers. This is even more compounded if the troops are being extracted after spending days in a combat environment; even worse if the enemy is still shooting at them. Even if you put lights on the propellers and tell the troops to stay away from the whirling circles of death, it is not enough of a safety margin. I have had the misfortune of knowing of more than one instance where soldier got decapitated by rotor systems, even when they had been clearly warned of the danger. Combat does funny things to peoples mental capacity so just because soldiers should know does not mean that they will remember. Second, landing zones that have not had adequate reconnaissance done on them are fraught with potential risks. Putting a landing gear into a hole, significant amounts of debris or tree stumps hiding in tall grass are all issues compounding the risk for an X3 rotorcraft in its current configuration. I have personally almost impaled a helicopter on a tree stump that I was assured was not there. Soldiers having the option of marching another five kilometers to another pick up zone or accepting that the aircrews will see any real dangers and avoid them, have led to more than one broken aircraft.

At least in a civil environment you have more control of where the passengers go and less probability of having an ugly landing zone full of things that want to eat your helicopter.
 

F-14D

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yasotay said:
VTOLicious said:
...there would be resistance to making a European Prime the lead
That's for sure! ;D

but its current dynamic layout has a significant number of risks when considered for tactical military operations
What exactly do you mean?

Just for the sake of completeness: I'm no X3 fanboy...what I see is a very well performing tech demonstrator based on a proven production model - imho the perfect performance comparision and a solid basis to start follow on developments.
My concerns as to the tactical applicability of the current layout are twofold, both in regards to the dynamic components. The low-slung position of the props is a safety hazard in a field environment. Operating the aircraft at night to do insertion and extraction of troops puts soldiers at risk of walking or running into the propellers. This is even more compounded if the troops are being extracted after spending days in a combat environment; even worse if the enemy is still shooting at them. Even if you put lights on the propellers and tell the troops to stay away from the whirling circles of death, it is not enough of a safety margin. I have had the misfortune of knowing of more than one instance where soldier got decapitated by rotor systems, even when they had been clearly warned of the danger. Combat does funny things to peoples mental capacity so just because soldiers should know does not mean that they will remember. Second, landing zones that have not had adequate reconnaissance done on them are fraught with potential risks. Putting a landing gear into a hole, significant amounts of debris or tree stumps hiding in tall grass are all issues compounding the risk for an X3 rotorcraft in its current configuration. I have personally almost impaled a helicopter on a tree stump that I was assured was not there. Soldiers having the option of marching another five kilometers to another pick up zone or accepting that the aircrews will see any real dangers and avoid them, have led to more than one broken aircraft.

At least in a civil environment you have more control of where the passengers go and less probability of having an ugly landing zone full of things that want to eat your helicopter.

I totally agree. In the civil world, the normal operation would be for the props to be stopped during passenger enplaning/deplaning. In a tactical environment, that just introduces extra complication and a needless delay during spoolup/despool (you can't do it in the air as with X2, because they also fill the antitorque function). BTW, putting safety lights on the props is the universally recognized symbol for, "aim here".

A 2nd consideration is that these will be even more restrictive of the use of side guns than the V-22
 

yasotay

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Yeah I was never a fan of lights on rotors. Heck I did not even like having NVG lighting in the cockpit. Especially on the zero illum nights. The Infantry always seemed to think those were the best nights for the smallest landing zone they could find. ;D
 

AeroFranz

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hmmm... i guess a partial solution would be ducted units? better static thrust but worse high speed characteristics.
 

F-14D

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AeroFranz said:
hmmm... i guess a partial solution would be ducted units? better static thrust but worse high speed characteristics.
Can you say, "AVX"?
 

F-14D

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AeroFranz said:
ok, quasi-AVX. No co-ax ;)
I was riffing on the ducted fans. They'd actually be a problem on X3, because they'd add a good deal of weight at the end of the wings. AVX keeps them close in to the fuselage. Not sure they'd really solve the interfence with ground opertions prolem, either. In AVX's case that fans are higher up and clear of everyone's path.

X3 might be useful in a role like that of the Navy's SH-60s, but I'm with Yasotay in that I don't see it as being viable for JMR.
 

AeroFranz

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Ok, i see what you mean. Not to split hairs, but in the X^3 case, the wings are carrying lift, they're sized to take (my guess) 3g's+. The shafts and pod/prop at the wingtip is yes added weight, but also inertial relief, which helps. Anyway, if you are designing for compound operations with wings taking a good percentage of the weight, then you've already accepted some beefy structure in the wings.


As a side note, the AVX concept can do without an anti-torque device because of the co-ax. However, that configuration usually has low directional stability (hence the large fins sported by Kamov helos). The ducted fans, even with their short moment arm, can provide added yaw stability, either by virtue of the stabilizing effect of pusher configurations, or using differential thrust.
In the X^3 case, of course, the long wing is sorely needed to provide some moment arm since the props are the only yaw effector. I'm not sure what Eurocopter can do to position those props in a safer location.
 

yasotay

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AeroFranz said:
Ok, i see what you mean. Not to split hairs, but in the X^3 case, the wings are carrying lift, they're sized to take (my guess) 3g's+. The shafts and pod/prop at the wingtip is yes added weight, but also inertial relief, which helps. Anyway, if you are designing for compound operations with wings taking a good percentage of the weight, then you've already accepted some beefy structure in the wings.


As a side note, the AVX concept can do without an anti-torque device because of the co-ax. However, that configuration usually has low directional stability (hence the large fins sported by Kamov helos). The ducted fans, even with their short moment arm, can provide added yaw stability, either by virtue of the stabilizing effect of pusher configurations, or using differential thrust.
In the X^3 case, of course, the long wing is sorely needed to provide some moment arm since the props are the only yaw effector. I'm not sure what Eurocopter can do to position those props in a safer location.
An interesting note; in the briefing on the X3 during its US demo the Test Pilot said that the aircraft had sufficient yaw authority with one prop inoperative.
 

yasotay

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Fantastic photos! I am envious of those who live in proximity to the great aero salon. I went in 1993, when the Ka-50 was premiered and spent four rolls of film (alas only governments could have digital cameras back then) on just that helicopter. It was after all the enigma from the east.


Having seen the X3 during its US tour up close I agree it is a well built aircraft.
 

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Amazing set of pics! Congratulations Matej for the quality and thoughtfulness you put in each shot.

You were fortunate to get to see the X3, I didn't even see it (nor did I see the Ka-52, which was not on the tarmac when I was there... :'( ).
Just as I tried to get past the A380 to access the X3, I was blocked by a cohort of agents telling the crowd to back off because they were moving a large aircraft around... Thought I would come and see it later, but then the rain set in and I gave up... :-\
 

Stargazer2006

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Matej said:
Stephane, I was exactly there when you first called me :)
Yeah, I know. Glad you were able to shoot these just in time before they closed the area!
 

VTOLicious

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Accodring to Tomasz Krysinski, Head of R&I, Airbus Helicopter is working on a follow-on project to demonstrate operational capability of the X³ concept.
Watch the video - At about 02:26 he starts talking about the X³.

BR Michael

https://youtu.be/YBhWJHvHWUQ

EDIT:
I wasn´t sure if he is talking about a new airframe...a quick websearch gave me certainty ;D

History of the X3
  • 19/06/2014. Airbus Helicopters’ X3 entered the French national Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Air and Space museum) of Paris-Le Bourget.
  • 07/23/2012. Airbus Helicopters' revolutionary X3 helicopter arrived in Washington for final leg of aircraft's U.S. tour.
  • 06/20/2012. Airbus Helicopters began the U.S. tour of its X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter.
  • 06/12/2012. The Airbus Helicopters X3 hybrid aircraft arrived in the United States for a month-long tour to demonstrate this advanced high-speed transportation system’s unique operational capabilities for both civil and military operators.
  • 05/03/2012. The American Helicopter Society (AHS) International awarded its annual recognition for helicopter technology improvement to Airbus Helicopters’ team that developed its X3 hybrid demonstrator aircraft.
  • 06/14/2011. Airbus Helicopters’ innovation took to the skies at the Paris Air Show: the X3 hybrid demonstrator make its public flight debut.
  • 05/16/2011. Airbus Helicopters’ X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator delivered on the promise of pushing the frontiers in rotary-wing aviation by surpassing its original speed target of 220 kts. demonstrating the compound aircraft’s performance, capabilities and maturity.
  • 12/09/2010. Speed objective of 180 kts is attained ahead of schedule for this innovative rotary-wing aircraft.
  • 12/09/2010. Speed objective of 180 kts is attained ahead of schedule for this innovative rotary-wing aircraft.
 

SteveO

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Airbus Helicopters to reveal X3 successor plan
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-helicopters-to-reveal-x3-successor-plan-425745/

Related patents?
https://www.google.co.uk/patents/EP2690010B1?cl=en&dq=ininventor:%22Axel+Fink%22

https://www.google.co.uk/patents/EP2690011A1?cl=en&dq=ininventor:%22Andrew+Winkworth%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwirxYW_1ILNAhXnJMAKHbphBWwQ6AEIMjAD

https://www.google.co.uk/patents/EP2690012A1?cl=en&dq=ininventor:%22Andrew+Winkworth%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiStdH31ILNAhXEDcAKHXQjCzkQ6AEIOTAE
 

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AeroFranz

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Cool looking...but i'm getting the impression that, just like with the really funky airliner seating arrangement patents, Airbus will patent the s#!t out of any idea, however impractical it might be. I mean, some of these ideas are technically feasible, but don't seem particularly efficient, which in the commercial world automatically means that they might as well be impossible - no one will ever build it.
The first idea they had, which was the x3 layout, seems by far the most practical one - even though it doesn't have all the swoopyness of these concepts.
 

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X3 related LifeRCraft (low-impact, fast and efficient rotorcraft) pdf -
http://cleansky.eu/sites/default/files/documents/events/20140220/2-%20CS2%20ID%20Bonn%20-%20Fast%20Rotorcraft%20(Airbus%20Helicopters).pdf

Looks like Formula 1 aerodynamicists have been coming up with the concepts judging by all the fins :)

I wonder how far away from the rotor hub you can position the props without adversely degrading the anti-torque effect?
 

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Airbus posted up some concept images on their twitter this morning.



 

AeroFranz

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Would look good if they ever made another TRON movie...
However i doubt a production machine would look like that ;)
 

SteveO

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The Airbus Helicopters H160 doesn't look that different. Obviously I mean the fuselage styling and not the compound layout.
 

yasotay

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AeroFranz said:
Would look good if they ever made another TRON movie...
However i doubt a production machine would look like that ;)
LOL. I thought the same thing. It does have the look of their current design philosophy, but I then I remember the concepts . for H-160
 

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Rethinking rotorcraft: Airbus aims for speedy helicopter
By Stuart Nathan 13th January 2017 11:23 am
https://www.theengineer.co.uk/rethinking-rotorcraft-airbus-aims-for-speedy-helicopter/

The new craft, whose design was frozen last summer ahead of its construction phase starting this year, is intended as a “mission demonstrator”: roughly one step ahead of a prototype but not yet a model for a production aircraft. It was designed as part of Airbus’s commitment to Clean Sky 2: a major European Union project to develop aircraft with reduced impact on the environment in terms of their fuel consumption, carbon emissions (these two are, of course, linked) and noise. Because of this, it is generally known simply as the Clean Sky 2 rotorcraft.
 

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totoro

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What are advantages of having two props as depicted in these images over the single pusher prop at the end of the tail, as in Sikorsky's Raider's example?
 

Anderman

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If i read the design right then one of the props works as a anti-torque feature when the x3 is in helicopter mode the other just running in idle mode then.
The Sikorsky X2, Raider etc have a coaxial rotor, the two rotors are counter rotating on the same axis elemating the torque so there is no need for a tail rotor etc.
 

VTOLicious

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totoro said:
What are advantages of having two props as depicted in these images over the single pusher prop at the end of the tail, as in Sikorsky's Raider's example?
Both concepts have design inherent pros and cons. I think the X³-concept would be rather applicable for heavy-lift transporters with a rear ramp.

BR Michael
 

yasotay

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VTOLicious said:
totoro said:
What are advantages of having two props as depicted in these images over the single pusher prop at the end of the tail, as in Sikorsky's Raider's example?
Both concepts have design inherent pros and cons. I think the X³-concept would be rather applicable for heavy-lift transporters with a rear ramp.

BR Michael
I think it would be useful for inter-city commuter and medical where you can better control people moving around the aircraft with the props active. It was pointed out to Airbus that spinning propellers in a dark and rainy military landing zone at 3AM was receipt for disaster.
 

Rhinocrates

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Well as a tasteless joke has it, if you can keep your head while everyone around you is losing theirs, you should land your helicopter somewhere else.
 

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totoro said:
What are advantages of having two props as depicted in these images over the single pusher prop at the end of the tail, as in Sikorsky's Raider's example?
The Sikorsky design has more complexity in the main rotor system, in that it needs a transmission to counter-rotate both rotors, where as the Airbus design only uses a single rotor, although the rotors in the Sikorsky design may be simpler.

As such, the Sikorsky has a rotor system that has a net torque of zero, so the rotor at the tail can be used for propulsion/aero-braking. However, being in the wake of the fuselage, it isn't as efficient as one in the free stream (Without something in front of it). But it should be a lower weight drive system by comparison.

Whereas, the Airbus design, having a single main rotor still has to contend with torque control, just as with any conventional helicopter. This is accomplished by placing two propulsion units out on small wings that can generate counter torque to stabilize the vehicle and also provide forward thrust. Of course, that adds complexity in the propulsion/anti-torque system. However, they (The anti-torque/propulsion propellers) don't have anything in front of them, which should make them more efficient, but they are still within the downwash of the main rotor.

I should clarify that at low speeds, the wing tip propellers are providing mainly anti-torque control. At higher speeds, they can be used mainly for thrust and the twin vertical tails can be used to counter the torque from the main rotor.

The Airbus can use it's stub wings to offload the rotor at higher speeds, but they lower the hover efficiency of the design by blocking the downwash from the main rotor. Conversely, the Sikorsky design doesn't have as much of a loss in hover because it doesn't have wings in the rotor downwash and the counter-rotating rotors eliminate most of the swirl in the downwash, also making it more efficient in hover.

That is why aerospace companies perform trade studies. Generally, they would create a few different designs for the same mission, then look at how the differing approaches meet various aspects of the mission requirements, which one has lower weight (Usually lower weight is lower cost, since 10lbs of material costs less than 20lbs of material) They would also look at complexity, reliability, and other factors and then decide which design best meets the mission requirements.

There are more advantages and disadvantages to the various designs, but I was just trying to highlight the major differences for you. I hope that helps.
 

yasotay

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Sundog that is a wonderful synopsis. Thanks.
 

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On this day ten years ago it flew. I was lucky to see it fly a year later albeit on miserable wet Wednesday at Paris Air Show 2011. Then again at Paris in 2013 on static with new MRH and achieving 255kts, before being retired to the museum at Le Bourget so here are my photos from both those years .

cheers

A5B35D5B-B9E4-4C1C-9BF1-8C46174FA632.jpeg C37A8BEA-7B63-459B-BC79-65EA1BB24194.jpeg AF07924A-FF2A-47F6-94F4-DF8C6D90E83D.jpeg 4075CAA7-8431-4A28-B7A3-C11BC4EAD988.jpeg 6D52A532-D8EE-43BC-9E70-535D80FB0B86.jpeg F3CFC797-5A80-4FD8-A28A-E038B9F5F4B1.jpeg 6EEBB75B-32DC-4CB7-A01B-201B00269214.jpeg AA7B45D4-34B7-4A45-9177-B172B5EE3779.jpeg 8092BFA3-8E16-45CD-9F17-90A6CEEF0D33.jpeg
 

yasotay

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Thanks for sharing. I also was able to see the X3 in flight, although Huntsville Alabama is not quite the venue as the Paris Air Show. Nor did it do the same spectacular air demonstration. Still it did seem a solid aircraft and it performed as advertised.
 
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