Airbus Helicopters is continuing to progress with the development of its Racer (Rapid And Cost-Efficient Rotorcraft) technology demonstrator, which is funded by the European Union's H2020 framework through the Clean Sky 2 programme and aims to provide the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability and mission performance.
After the validation of the demonstrator's aerodynamic configuration last year, the key sub-systems have now successfully passed their preliminary design review (PDR) paving the way for the start of the first components manufacture. Final assembly of the prototype is planned to start in Q4 2019.
“I want to thank all of our European partners for the excellence of their work and for their commitment in this fantastic project”, says head of research and innovation Tomasz Krysinski. “The PDR marks a major achievement for the Racer programme as it allows us to freeze interfaces and 3D definitions of the main subsystems, prior to detailed design and manufacture of the key components.”
Long-lead items are the first ones to be manufactured and the Airbus Helicopters teams have already launched production of the lateral drive shaft, one of the Racer's most innovative components. Among the key sub-systems, Italian technology company Avio Aero is launching the procurement and manufacturing for the aircraft's lateral gear boxes housing, while UK-based GE Aviation Integrated Systems is taking care of the wing's titanium cradle part. Romania's INCAS/Romaero has started manufacturing the Racer's composite side panel and Spanish aerostructure designer and manufacturer Aernnova is working on the tail parts primary structure.
Together with its partners, Airbus Helicopters is currently refining the content of the future Racer flight demonstration in Clean Sky 2 which will begin in 2020 and include about 200 flight hours. The first part will focus on the progressive opening of the flight envelope and on assessing key performance objectives as well as speed, handling qualities, stability and aerodynamics. The second phase will aim at demonstrating the aircraft's suitability to carry out potential missions where increased speed and efficiency would bring significant added value, such as emergency medical services, search and rescue and private transport. This second flight testing phase will also allow low-noise flight procedures to mature, unique to the Racer demonstrator formula.