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Airbus Racer Helicopter Demonstrator First Flight Part of Clean Sky 2 Initiative

Airbus Racer Demonstrator Makes Inaugural Flight

Airbus Helicopters' ambitious Racer demonstrator has achieved its inaugural flight as part of the Clean Sky 2 initiative, a cornerstone European research project aimed at enhancing aviation sustainability.

Taking to the skies over Marignane, the aircraft completed a 30-minute test flight, marking the beginning of a two-year intensive flight campaign intended to expand the aircraft's flight envelope and demonstrate its advanced high-speed capabilities.

Developed with the collaboration of 40 partners across 13 countries, the Racer stands out with its 90 patents, showcasing a high level of innovation that European cooperation can foster. Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, expressed immense pride in this milestone, emphasizing the Racer's potential to pioneer new high-speed capabilities and develop an eco-mode system aimed at reducing fuel consumption.

The Racer is optimized for cruising speeds exceeding 400 km/h, striving to strike the optimal balance between speed, cost-efficiency, and mission performance. A notable feature of the Racer is its innovative hybrid-electrical eco-mode system, developed in conjunction with Safran Helicopter Engines. This system enables one of its two Aneto-1X engines to pause during cruise flight, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and contributing to an overall fuel consumption reduction of about 20% compared to current helicopters of the same class.

Additionally, the Racer aims to demonstrate how its unique architecture can lower its operational acoustic footprint, potentially leading to quieter operation in populated areas. This commitment to environmental stewardship is in line with the broader goals of the Clean Sky initiative.

Drawing on the legacy of the Airbus Helicopters X3 technology demonstrator, which in 2013 set a speed record by reaching 472 km/h, the Racer is designed to further refine and operationalize the compound helicopter architecture. This architecture combines fixed wings for efficient lift, lateral rotors for propulsion, and a main rotor for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities. Through these enhancements, the Racer seeks to offer improved performance for missions where high speed is crucial, potentially transforming future helicopter operations across a variety of sectors.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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