Airbus’s new chopper is a private jet killer

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Jun 26, 2017, 1:18 pm IST
Updated Jun 26, 2017, 2:20 pm IST
Called the Racer, its primary intention is to transport the billionaires of the world faster than a conventional helicopter.
The Racer rotorcraft is supposed to be fuel efficient and cheaper to operate on a daily basis compared to a conventional helicopter.
 The Racer rotorcraft is supposed to be fuel efficient and cheaper to operate on a daily basis compared to a conventional helicopter.

The need for a faster urban transport service is gaining momentum in the present. Various companies are investing in wacky ideas, hoping to solve the problems that commuters face during the rush hours. We have seen a lot of connected autonomous car concepts, hyperloop concepts and even flying taxis. Airbus is a company that has been trying to venture into this arena with clever solutions. After unveiling the ‘Vahana’ air taxi concept, they have another new offering – Airbus Racer.

At first, you might find it hard to link the Airbus racer with the idea of a fast commuting medium. But the point of the ‘Rapid And Cost Effective Rotorcraft’ or Racer is exactly that – provide a fast commuter vehicle, albeit for the billionaires. It is basically a helicopter with wings to the side and two additional Roll Royce turboprop engines.

 

The ‘Vahana’ air taxi is a great concept that will have to wait for the technology to evolve to make it a reality. Till that happens, Airbus wants the 'usual' helicopter customers to enjoy a faster point-to-point transportation service. A standard helicopter is limited around 160mph whereas Airbus’ latest rotorcraft can achieve speeds close to 300mph, pushing it to the range of the private jet.

Airbus says that it was difficult for the standard helicopter design to witness speeds close to the sound barrier. The airframe and particularly the primary rotor couldn’t handle the aerodynamic resistance and lead to immense flight instability. Therefore, adding wings to standard chopper blueprint was the only solution to enhance the aerodynamic stability. To reduce the stress on rotors, a pair of rear-facing turboprops on the edge of the wings provides the necessary boost for a fast horizontal flight while saving the majority of the primary rotor’s power for slow speeds manoeuvres as well as the vertical lift.

The Racer rotorcraft is supposed to be fuel efficient and cheaper to operate on a daily basis compared to a conventional helicopter. However, engineers are still working on a way to make the primary rotor independent of the turbo propeller engines so as to develop am Audi-like ‘Start/Stop’ fuel-saving technology for the Racer. Airbus is looking at a 2020 deadline for the first flight of the Racer. That gives the aspiring billionaires enough time to save for their next commuter vehicle.

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