The Eurocopter X3 may look a little strange at first glance. It's got a nose that only a mother could love, a couple of stubby wings, and too many spinny things for a purebred helicopter. But all that adds up to one heck of a speedy aircraft: it's a design which blew past everyone's expectations — even the engineers behind its odd appearance.
"The aircraft wasn't really designed to fly at that speed and to beat the record set by our colleagues at Sikorsky," states Jean-Jaques Ferrier, head of Eurocopter's Research and Innovation department. Yet that's just what it's done. During a test on June 7th, the X3 hit a staggering 294 MPH — a speed which blew past the previous record set by the Sikorsky X2. The Eurocopter X3 went on to reach 303 MPH during a dive — another record. But speed at all costs was not the only goal of the X3 project. These records, its engineers state, would mean nothing without coming hand-in-hand with safety.
To their delight, the X3 has proven itself to operate just as well at top speed as it does at a comparably paltry 249 MPH. Having proven itself in any and all ways imaginable, the X3 project is ready to come to a close. But fear not, because the next phase is where things really get interesting. The X3 is going into production, meaning that everybody will someday soon be able to catch a glimpse of one of these lightning-quick choppers as they streak by. If that sounds like too long a wait for you, check out the video below, in which you'll be able to see the actual record-breaking flight.