Airbus Helicopters’ Racer demonstrator makes maiden flight


Airbus Helicopters’ demonstrator helicopter Racer has made its maiden flight at the manufacturer’s Marignane facility in southern France. The helicopter flew for about 30 minutes to evaluate the aircraft’s flight characteristics as part of a campaign that will take two years.

“With its 90 patents, Racer is the perfect example of the level of innovation that can be achieved when European partners come together,” said Bruno Even, CEO, Airbus Helicopters. “This first flight is a proud moment for Airbus Helicopters and for our 40 partners in 13 countries. I look forward to watching this demonstrator pioneer high speed capabilities and develop the eco-mode system that will contribute to reducing fuel consumption.”

Designed for a cruise speed of more than 400km/h, the Racer aims to achieve the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, and mission performance. It is also planned to achieve a fuel consumption reduction of around 20%, compared with current generation helicopters of the same class. The fuel savings are expected to arise from improvements in aerodynamic design and a new “eco-mode propulsion system”.

The hybrid-electrical eco-mode system, developed with Safran Helicopter Engines, enables one of the two Aneto-1X engines to be paused while in cruise flight, contributing to reduced CO2 emissions. The helicopter’s architecture is also intended to contribute to lowering its operational acoustic footprint.

Meanwhile, the Racer is intended to demonstrate the advantages of high speed for a range of missions.  Flight profiles include: emergency medical services (to save lives by delivering treatment in the ‘golden hour’), search and rescue operations, public service and commercial transportation.