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First Flight of Airbus Helicopter’s Racer; 20% Reduction in Fuel Consumption

Corail Helicopteres Helicopter Landing at the Helipad

Airbus Helicopters’ Racer demonstrator recently made its first flight. Launched as part of the European Clean Sky 2 program, the objectives were a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared with a conventional aircraft of the same weight, and an equally significant reduction in the noise footprint. Simulations, confirmed by initial flights, showed that the Racer met these requirements.

Airbus Helicopter’s Racer

The key to this lies in the aircraft’s ‘compound’ formula, which has already been successfully tested on the X3 demonstrator since 2010. The Racer combines a unique architecture (special fuselage aerodynamics, helicopter rotor, fixed wing and propulsive propellers) with innovative engine power management and an autopilot that knows how to make the most of this combination.


The Eco-Mode system, developed with the support of the DGAC (French Civil Aviation Authority) and several other partners, plays an essential role in delivering the performance we expect. It involves putting one of the two engines on standby during cruise flight, with the ability to restart it almost instantaneously if necessary. The aircraft flies slightly slower than it would with both engines running, but it’s still faster than a conventional helicopter. Above all, it saves 20% in fuel consumption.

—Julien Guitton, who heads the program

The performance of the wing is also optimized in all phases of flight, due to the use of flaps placed on the trailing edge, contributing to lower fuel consumption. By providing 40% of the total lift, the wing takes the load off the rotor, reducing dynamic loads and vibrations. The Racer also promises to be more comfortable than a conventional helicopter.

The flight control system and autopilot enable us to take full advantage of all the possibilities offered by the compound formula. By adjusting the distribution of power between the rotors, we can alter the position of the aircraft and carry out totally unprecedented low-noise approaches.

—Julien Guitton,

Source from Green Car Congress

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