Airbus Helicopter: svelato il concept dell’X6
Similmente a quanto accade nel mondo dell’ala fissa, anche in campo elicotteristico l’Heavy Lift rappresenta una nicchia di mercato e di conseguenza i modelli di successo apparsi negli ultimi decenni si possono contare nelle dita di una mano.
In Occidente (ma non solo), il market share e’ praticamente dominato della Boeing con il suo peraltro apprezzato CH-47 Chinook, una macchina che pero’ ha volato per la prima volta quando la Casa Bianca era occupata dai Kennedy. Parliamo di 53 anni fa. Ci sarebbe, e’ vero, anche il Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion (e prossimamente il “K”), ma questo specifico modello triturbina non l’ha acquistato nessuno al di fuori dell’US Marine Corps.
L’unico altro elicottero appartenente a questa categoria e’ il mastodontico Mi-26 Halo Russo, un biturbina dalle capacita’ sovrapponibili a quelle di un C-130. Mezzo eccezionale, ma molto costoso e indispensabile solo in un ristretto numero di ruoli.
Mentre le forze armate Statunitensi procedono con il programma Future Vertical Lift (che include anche il rimpiazzo del summenzionato Chinook), la Airbus Helicopter due giorni fa ha presentato al Salone Aeronautico di Le Bourget il concept di quello che dovrebbe essere l’embrione del prossimo elicottero civile da trasporto pesante europeo, l’X6. Che e’ poi quello che vedete in basso.
Ecco quanto dichiarato dalla casa madre:
Le Bourget, France, 16 June, 2015 – The concept phase start-up for a new European helicopter, Airbus Helicopters’ X6, was announced today at the Paris Air Show, initiating a two-year definition period on this next-generation heavy-lift rotorcraft that will be tailored for the civil market. X6 will initially target oil and gas missions and will also be perfectly suited for Search and Rescue, VIP and other applications.
Major marketing, architecture and design choices for the twin-engine aircraft will be assessed to meet customer operational requirements during the concept phase, supported by a significant dialog with customers worldwide to validate the X6’s value creation for their operations.
The X6 is the newest arrival in Airbus Helicopters’ H generation, continuing on from the success of the recently unveiled H160. In line with its company-wide transformation, Airbus Helicopters continues to live up to the excellence of the Airbus name and sets its ambitions looking forward.
“X6 will be for the heavy segment in the next decade what the H160 is today for the mediums. It will set new standards in the industry not only for design, but for its production strategy as well, as we will rely on the industrial capacities of our core countries, including the upcoming pillar in Poland,” explained Guillaume Faury, the President & CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “Our objective is to bring to the market the most efficient helicopter solutions adapted for how our customers’ needs and the industry itself will evolve in the future.”
In defining and developing the X6, Airbus Helicopters will build on its reputation as a recognized leader in the industry, resulting in a next-generation, twin-engine rotorcraft that is mature and all-weather ready – including full de-icing – from the first delivery. One of the major innovations to be integrated on X6 is the Fly-by-Wire flight control system.
As the latest program to benefit from Airbus Helicopters’ long history of innovation and expertise, the X6 will share commonality features with the company’s latest rotorcraft – including the new H175 and H160. As one of the key-programs for the coming decades, the X6 also will maintain Airbus Helicopters’ leadership in the oil and gas sector.
Once adequate program maturity has been achieved in the concept phase, a subsequent development phase will follow, leading to an X6 entry into service anticipated in the 2020s.