Sikorsky recently completed the first flight of their new X2 helicopter, which should herald in a new era of high-speed helicopter transportation. Once the X2 is done with testing, it will rocket through the skies at 288mph, making it the fastest helicopter ever built.
The X2 is powered by a Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Co (LHTEC) T800 engine and features fly-by-wire controls. Also included are advanced electronics that Sikorsky hopes will counter vibration problems they’ve had trouble with previously.
The ‘copter will go through a four-phase test to monitor hover performance and be pushed to its limits in high-speed flight. If everything goes well, Sikorsky plans to launch a whole family of models featuring the coaxial, compound design.
I wonder, could the speed of the X2 make it a popular alternative to commercial passenger jets? 288mph is half the cruising speed of Boeing’s 747 which would be fine for short distances, plus the advantages of avoiding airports are obvious and great. Could we be dawning on a new age of international travel that offers near door to door flights? Instead of major airport terminals, we could have Helipads scattered around our cities like widely-spaced bus stops. Okay, the economics probably wouldn’t work, but I can dream can’t I?