Paris: It’s a helicopter, but it’s not ungainly. It’s a helicopter, but it has two forward-facing propellers. It’s a helicopter but it flies as fast as some planes.
It is the X3, a very high-speed helicopter built by European defense giant EADS. It’s already set one speed record, zooming at 279.6 miles per hour (232 knots or 450 km per hour). A remarkably attractive helicopter, the X3 is described quite completely by this paragraph from EADS:
“The X3 utilizes a Eurocopter Dauphin helicopter airframe equipped with two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system and two propellers which are installed on short-span fixed wings. This hybrid configuration creates an advanced transportation system offering the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter.”
Designed for search and rescue missions, oil and gas industry service, rich folks and coast guard work, it may also be useful for military service. However, EADS is not touting the military uses much yet.
And then there are the other planes that flew at Paris in this video, but none of them are as cool as the X3, which has to be the first time that’s true for a helicopter in a long, long time.