Airbus RACER demonstrator is closer now to taking flight along this 2022. The ANGELA Consortium finalised and delivered to Airbus Helicopters a flight-cleared landing gear system which will be integrated into the RACER high-speed compound helicopter.
RACER will be assembled and flight-tested in 2022.
Landing gears are one of the most critical aircraft and helicopter sub-systems to fulfil normal and emergency landings in line with certification and safety requirements.
In light of the unique requirements of the Airbus RACER rotorcraft, the design, development and manufacture of the nose and main landing gear system was driven by environmental goals, weight-saving, high aerodynamic performance, high aeronautic standards and flight-worthy requirements.
The ANGELA consortium was coordinated by the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) and involved Magnaghi Aeronautica (MA Group) as a major industrial leader. Aviatest, CentreComposite, M&S Engineering and Techno System Developments provided their expertise to develop and integrate major innovations with the ambition to go beyond the current state of art:
- Hydraulic retraction systems with innovative flush doors to reduce drag during high speed missions
- Full electric retraction/extension system
- Smart landing gear for hard landing detection based on FBG (Fiber Bragg Grating) sensor network
The developed landing gear systems are integrated inside the wing and fuselage with movable door systems, specifically conceived to enable minimum drag when retracted and to provide a large track for a safe landing when extended.
The integration of these technologies and design solutions enabled consistent weight reduction (-15% at system level) as well as reduced CO2 and NOx, noise emissions thanks to improved aerodynamic in retracted conditions.
Looking forwards, the consortium will support Airbus Helicopters to prepare the relevant documentation to achieve the permit to fly.
The RACER programme is one of Airbus Helicopters most exciting innovation projects and one that illustrates the company’s approach to innovation, which is focused on delivering value to customers and lowering helicopter emissions.
Developed in the frame of the European Research Clean Sky 2 project, which involves 40 partners in 13 European countries, the high-speed demonstrator will be optimised for a cruise speed of more than 400 km/h (the average helicopter can reach a top speed of about 260 km/h) and aims at achieving the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency and mission performance. Fuel savings will be generated thanks to the innovative Safran eco-mode hybrid-electrical system, which allows one of the two Aneto-1X engines to be shut down while in cruise flight. The particular architecture of the RACER formula will also contribute to lowering its operational acoustic footprint.
Unveiled at the Paris Air Show in 2017, the Airbus RACER demonstrator passed its critical design review in 2019 before the manufacturing of some long lead items was achieved in 2020. The recent completion of the demonstrator’s centre fuselage represents a decisive milestone for the programme as it marks the start of the RACER’s assembly.
This first assembly phase is taking place at Airbus Helicopters’ site in Donauwörth, Germany and will involve the installation of several major components such as the canopy, the box-wings, the fuel system, the cowlings, and more. Later this year, the RACER demonstrator will be transferred to Airbus Helicopters’ site in Marignane, France for the final assembly and subsequent launch of the flight campaign in 2022.