Airbus’ New Half-Plane, Half-Helicopter 'Racer' Completes Its First Public Flight

  • The Airbus "Racer" can fly faster than a conventional helicopter.

  • It also offers operational efficiency and a reduced noise footprint.

Airbus’ airplane-helicopter hybrid
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After years of development, Airbus is unveiling one of its most unusual and ambitious projects: the Racer, which takes off like a helicopter and flies almost as fast as an airplane. According to the company, the Racer is a hybrid aircraft that combines versatility with operational efficiency.

The Airbus Racer formula is quite different from any other product on the market; it’s a proposal that integrates a fuselage with unique aerodynamics, a helicopter rotor, a fixed wing, and propulsion propellers. In addition, the aircraft combines all these features with an advanced engine power management system.

Racer, the Airbus Hybrid

This aircraft doesn’t need a runway to take off, but if one is available, it can use it to accelerate before launch. Once airborne, it can reach speeds higher than a conventional helicopter but lower than an airplane.

One of the outstanding advantages of this hybrid is its efficiency. It can save about 20% of fuel compared to helicopters with similar characteristics. This is possible thanks to an aerodynamic optimization system and an “eco-propulsion-mode.”

Cockpit of the new Airbus Racer

The Racer has been in Airbus’ plans for years. The company's Airbus Helicopters subsidiary, based in Marignane, France, promoted the project as part of the European Clean Sky plan, which aims to develop cleaner transportation technologies. With its recent flight, the manufacturer has now shown the public the Racer's significant evolution.

New Airbus Racer

Airbus claims that it not only managed to reduce the fuel consumption of this hybrid but also its acoustic footprint. It's important to note that this is a demonstration model, so it could change if it enters the production phase. Reuters reports that there are certain members of NATO members on the potential buyers list.

Racer fixed wing

Future operators of the Racer could benefit from its versatility and speed. “The aim of the Racer is not to go as fast as possible, but to offer enhanced operational capabilities at the right price for missions where speed can really be an asset, Julien Guitton, who heads the project, said.

While the aircraft manufacturer made the flight of its hybrid public last week, the Racer took its first flight away from the eyes of the media earlier this month. Industry executives, politicians, and representatives of the European Union attended the flight demonstration.

Images | Airbus

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