This speedy Sikorsky X2 helicopter completed its first test flight yesterday, proving that next-generation helicopters have leaped way beyond that old criticism of them as “a collection of spare parts flying in formation.” When it’s done with testing, this dual-propped fly-by-wire speedster will blast through the air at 288mph, making it the fastest helicopter in the world.
It’s not there yet, though. This first 30-minute flight showed that the thing doesn’t fall out of the sky, but it won’t be streaking through the wild blue yonder at 288mph until its fourth test flight. If all goes well, the X2’s makers could decide to launch a whole family of these beanie-propped bullets by 2010. This is good news for Sikorsky, still smarting from losing that lucrative and prestigious Marine One (the president’s helicopter) contract to Lockheed Martin in 2005.