Airbus Helicopters says its new 5-6 ton X4 medium helicopter is on track for its first flight in 2015.
Little has been heard about the new aircraft since the departure of CEO Lutz Bertling in May last year. But speaking at Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim, Calif., Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury revealed several key milestones in the development of the new medium helicopter.
The company has started endurance tests on the main gearbox of the X4, while the composite structure for the aircraft will be delivered this summer. Faury says the X4 will achieve a 20% reduction in operating costs per passenger compared to the current generation of rotorcraft.
An avionics iron bird, dubbed “Helicopter Zero,” has entered its test campaign. The aircraft will use the company’s Blue Edge blades, which feature a hockey stick-shaped leading edge at the outer tip, designed to reduce the noise generated by blade-vortex interaction (BVI), the pulsating sound created when the tip of a rotor blade hits the vortex shed by the tip of the preceding blade. The aim is to reduce noise by up to five dB. The blades—in development since 2007—have completed 150 flying hours fitted to an EC155 testbed flying out of Airbus’ facility at Marignane, near Marseille.