The Paris Air Show is always a major international stage for the launch of the aviation industry’s biggest innovations. This year was no exception.
This year’s show featured a first glimpse of a new configuration for the “helicopter of tomorrow”: a new compound helicopter (so-called because it is a hybrid of a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft) from Airbus Helicopters. This new configuration features an entire power transmission system, two side gearboxes and one main gearbox, developed and built by Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business.
Within the Clean Sky 2 Fast RotorCraft European research project, the aircraft is being developed by more than 35 international players from 12 countries, including Avio Aero.
Appropriately named the Racer (having been referred to as the LifeRCraft over the past few months), the aircraft is destined to revolutionize the way we fly. The Racer includes a large number of innovations and unique characteristics: a ground-breaking architecture, capable of both hovering and high-speed flight and an airplane-derived fuselage, not to mention a new transmission, avionics and flight control technologies.
Other GE European teams are involved in the development of this brand-new compound helicopter, like the Global Research Center in Munich, Germany, which followed the technological maturation and collaborated with both Avio Aero and the GE Aviation teams in the UK (joining also Nottingham University) for the wings and lateral transmissions.
The demonstrators developed within Clean Sky will be able to fly in a way that reduces the differences between the flight modes of a plane and a helicopter, achieving higher speeds, increased load capacity, greater range and enhanced transport versatility, boosting the competitiveness of helicopter producers and their supply chain.
Companies from several European countries, contributing expanded know-how in seamless cooperation, are aiming for the same major objective: the Racer will take to the air for the first time in 2020 and it will be intended to go into service around 2030.
Watch the exclusive interview at the unveiling ceremony during the 2017 Paris Air Show with Tomasz Krysinski, Airbus Helicopters Head of Research & Innovation and Ron Van Manen, Clean Sky Program Manager.