The Rolls Royce-powered Eurocopter X3 completed its Step 1 speed objective attaining a total airspeed of 180 kts (333 km/hr) in level flight at a reduced level of engine power.
The stunning prototype achieved this performance objective at the DGA Flight Test base in Istres, France.
The X3 is equipped with two Rolls-Royce turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system, along with two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings.
This hybrid configuration creates an advanced transportation system that offers the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter.
It is tailored to applications where operational costs, flight duration and mission success depend directly on the maximum cruising speed.
Earlier this year, the X3 reached an altitude of 12,500 feet during the flight testing and performed maneuvers with left and right turns at bank angles of up to 60 degrees.
Having already surpassed the speed of a traditional helicopter, the next milestone for the demonstrator is the Step 2 phase at Eurocopter's headquarters in Marignane, France, where the X3 will enter a second set of flight tests during which it is expected to reach sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 kts, said Eurocopter in a statement.
With a wide range of applications envisioned for this concept like rescue (SAR) missions, coast guard duties and border patrol missions, the Eurocopter X3 will hopefully make it to the mass-production stage.