An eco mode lets one of the engines shut off during flight for improving fuel economy and range.

Airbus has debuted the RACER (an acronym for Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft) at the Paris Air Show as a concept for the high-speed, ultra-efficient chopper of the future. The three-rotor aircraft cruises at an impressive 400 kilometres per hour.

Airbus Racer Helicopter

The novel design features a main rotor on top for generating lift, much like a traditional helicopter, and there are pusher rotors on each side for creating thrust. In addition, a box-wing allows for additional lift while cruising. “The staggered-type box-wing has a smaller overall surface than a normal wing, so it is less affected by performance-reducing rotor downwash; and therefore, less power is required to hover,” Tomasz Krysinski, Vice President of Research & Innovation at Airbus Helicopters, said in the concept’s announcement. “However, the box-wing’s upper and lower segments create all the lift we need in forward flight.”

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The Racer uses two RTM322 turbine engines. Airbus doesn’t specify which variant the chopper uses, but these powerplants make 2,100 to 2,600 shaft horsepower each, which should provide plenty of performance. Plus, an eco mode allows for a temporary switch to electric power that shuts down one of the engines for better fuel economy.

Airbus Racer Helicopter

Airbus first tested the tri-rotor design with its X3 compound rotorcraft that was able to hit a record-setting 255 knots (472 km/h). “The X3 demonstrator showed that high speed, highly efficient results can be obtained when the main rotor’s rotational speed is slowed down during forward flight, and thrust is provided by propellers mounted on a wing that provides lift,” Krysinski said.

The Racer develops the X3 concept into something that would be more appropriate for production. While the aircraft only exists as a scale model and these renderings for now, Airbus plans to build a full-sized version in 2019. The inaugural flight should happen in 2020.

Source: Airbus via Uncrate

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