By ignoring the Airbus Helicopters RACER, Europeans could miss the next technological leap in air combat

The RACER of Airbus Helicopters is a fast and economical helicopter demonstrator (Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft) supported by the European Clean Sky project. It was also on the Clean Sky website that was published on March 20 an inventory of the RACER program. It would thus seem that the development of the first demonstrator encounters two important technical difficulties, but that the calendar of the program as a whole should not be changed.

Final adjustments before the start of the tests

The two elements affected by significant design delays are the main gearbox and the side shaft lines. Concretely, the delay logically accumulates on the elements that really differentiate the RACER, namely its two lateral propulsion pods fixed at the end of small lateral wings. However, as the chief engineer on the technology demonstrator Brice Makinadjian explains, the design difficulties on these two elements should not delay the assembly of the demonstrator or the date scheduled for its first flight in the fall of 2021. Indeed, the general dimensions and the external interfaces of the gearbox and the shaft lines are already designed. This will allow to start assembling the RACER in which thoses elements will be integrated at the last moment.

The RACER's tandem rhomboidal wing is thinner and offers more lift and resistance than the wing proposed on the X3 demonstrator. However, the transmission between the turbines and the external propellers still requires a little work.

The general design of the problematic parts has already been fixed, and the endurance fatigue tests should take place in the coming months. Thus, barring additional delays caused by the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic, the first flight of the RACER is still expected for the last quarter of 2021.

The RACER of Airbus Helicopters


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