The RACER demonstrator pushes the boundaries of speed
In rescue missions, every second counts.
If paramedics can stabilise a patient’s condition within the first sixty minutes – known as Golden Hour – their chances of survival and long-term recovery are dramatically increased.
So Airbus Helicopters engineers asked: what if we could give doctors more time with patients during this Golden Hour by reducing transport time? What if we could rescue people even faster?
And so they began their pioneering mission to push the boundaries of speed.
On 20th June 2017, Airbus unveiled RACER: a high-speed helicopter concept. Two times faster than classical helicopters, with a top cruise speed of 400 km/h, it could fly from Paris to London in just one hour.
But RACER doesn’t pursue speed at any cost. The Rapid And Cost Efficient Rotorcraft finds the optimum trade-off between speed, cost efficiency, mission performance and sustainability.
As RACER’s 2020 first flight nears, the flight test crew from its predecessor – the X3 – explain what it is like to fly an aircraft at the forefront of speed innovation.
“With more than 35 years of flying experience in dozens of different types of helicopters, I believe aeronautical engineering is key. You are as much an engineer as a pilot."
Hervé Jammayrac, Chief Test Pilot for Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Helicopters has long pursued a mission to innovate – the division has trebled its budget for research and development since 2006.
RACER builds on the research that came before it; in particular that of its earlier version, the X3 demonstrator. Through 156 test flight hours the X3 proved the effectiveness of a compound aerodynamic configuration, which combines a traditional main rotor with innovative lateral rotors.
The RACER demonstrator has developed this to deliver even more efficient speed. Its two sets of fixed wings optimise aerodynamics and its asymmetric tail boom optimises hover performance, reducing operating costs by a quarter.
The RACER demonstrator is supported in its mission by Europe-wide collaboration. It has been developed alongside the Clean Sky 2 European research programme, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of the aviation industry.
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