Finding the balance between the long distance capabilities of planes and a traditional helicopter’s ability to land almost anywhere, Airbus’s X3 prototype is the latest and most proven iteration of hybrid aircraft technology.
Unlike conventional helicopters and the US Military’s V-22 Osprey, the X3 lacks both a tail rotor and the tilt-rotors that characterize the most innovative and experimental helicopters to date. Instead, the X3 is equipped with a main 5-blade rotor powered by two 2270-horsepower Rolls-Royce engines, and two smaller 5-blade props fitted on the ends of downward angled winglets. With more power delivered to the starboard prop, which helps counter the main rotor’s torque effect, the X3 has successfully reached a speed of 293 mph (255 knots), breaking a non-jet-assisted speed record.
X3 flight demonstration: