Historically, vertical flight has required a compromise between hover performance and forward speed. If you look at efficiency vs. speed image on the right; the desired helicopter attributes (good hover efficiency, low speed controllability, low downwash, hover endurance) fall to the left of the plot. High disk loading aircraft such as Harriers and JSF, fall on the right of the plot: while fast, their hovering capabilities are limited, and their operational costs tend to increase due to the required power loading. Sikorsky is focused on creating an aircraft that operates to the right on this scale: providing more speed without compromising the essential attributes that make helicopters valuable.
The Sikorsky X2 TECHNOLOGY™ demonstrator aircraft will incorporate several new technologies and demonstrate them in a flight environment. These technologies include 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.
Sikorsky is well on its way in completing the design of the X2 TECHNOLOGY™ Demonstrator with important milestones right on the horizon. We are excited about what it means for Sikorsky, and most importantly, what it means for our customers – more options.