Airbus Unveils Plans for X6 Helicopter

PARIS — Airbus Helicopters announced the launch of a development program to build the X6 helicopter that would eventually replace the Super Puma and have a military variant delivered in 15 years.

Airbus officials said Tuesday the X6 will first be developed for the civilian market, specifically the oil and gas industry. The company said it would later develop a military variants of the next-generation heavy-lift rotorcraft.

The X6 will be designed to carry 19 passengers and feature fly by wire controls, which is a first for Airbus.

Airbus said Tuesday that it expects to be able to deliver the first X6 helicopters to the commercial market by 2022-2023.

Speculation had been building ahead of the announcement as company executives had been hinting at a replacement for the popular H225 Super Puma helicopter and the NH90 helicopter.

Later this year, Sweden will receive its first NH90 helicopter that it will use to hunt Russian submarines, Swedish officials told Defense News Sunday. However, Sweden was not impressed with Airbus and its execution of the program.

“We have not been pleased with this program, it is very late,” Swedish official Lena Erixon told Tom Kington of Defense News.

Michael Hoffman can be reached at Mike.Hoffman@military.com

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • Capt

    They need to research magnetic rotor blade compliments. To me, there is more potential for helicopters but they need to start becoming unconventional. To me the V-22 was a new radical design that in turn may spur more radical designs. Please stop making cookie cutter offerings. Efficient on current forms is good and fine but it takes away from tech/design leaps that need to happen.

    • blight_

      Were you thinking of a Halbach array?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halbach_array http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa….

      • Capt Obv

        Yes, I would love to see that technology openly tested. Key word: openly.

        • Tom

          Openly tested by who? Why would a company openly test intellectual property?

      • blight_asdf

        The Halbach array will have less moving parts. Whether or not this contributes to ease of repair in the field is an open question.

  • Al Gore

    Once I scale up my solar-powered anti-gravity armored air tank, I will go public and sell tons of them!

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    The V-22 has been almost as excruciatingly overdue and over-cost as the F-35. We’ve had enough of grand transformational leaps that fell horribly short. I think the military’s appetite for “radical new designs” is sated, and until sequestration is over and done with, there isn’t going to be money for anything venturesome even if the military wants to try.

    • Dfens

      Yeah, that’s the problem with the V-22, it’s such a “radical new design”. Technology bad. http://vstol.org/VSTOLWheel/BellXV-3.htm

    • Tom

      The fleet loves the capabilities of the V-22. The speed and range of the V-22 have allowed for missions that were not ideal or even possible for either fixed or rotating wing aircraft.
      Besides, they are designing this for the commercial sector first with a military variant to be offered later.

      • Dfens

        The flying part is great, the dying part not so great.

        • Tom

          Statistically the the V-22 has a safer combat record then many helos. The maintenance record is another story.

  • msgingram

    need to get rid of the tail rotors, and get some magnetic rotors with blades that can take hits. where are they going to mount weapons systems and related equipment.

    • Tom

      This is a heavy lift helicopter being designed for the commercial market with a military variant to be offered later. Its not an Apache replacement.

    • Tom

      Magnetic rotors do not in any way improve a rotor’s ability to “take hits” over conventional rotor designs.

    • blight_asdf

      Blades will never really be able to take hits.

  • Valvatorez

    Tail rotors are too vulnerable. They should have gone with NOTOR or a Coaxial design.

  • navyxman

    If Sweden says it’s a waste of time…..
    It sounds a lot like the Littoral Combat program (colossal waster of tax dollars!!)

    • wtpworrier

      It’s their dollars so….

  • Tom

    I love all the armchair aircraft designers that seem to have a much better fix on the technology then the professionals who design aircraft for a living. Just take another sip from your big-gulp and relax…..really smart people who have a much better handle on the state of the art then you do are at the help of this project.

    • Capt Obv

      Great input Tom but economic considerations typically hold back dynamic innovation. Look at modern commercial airliner MFGers. They focus on making continuous improvements to the tube fuselage design because it works and has for a while, but what’s next after that? At some point a new concept has to emerge and technology needs to start moving to make that design efficient as well.

      While you can make unedu ated assumptions (which they really are) about thise on this forum, my point still stands.

    • wtpworrier

      The first chopper built was built by an armchair aircraft designer, mainly because they didn’t know if it would work. Even the Wright brothers were armchair designers. But they had an Idea, and they worked on it until that idea manifested itself into what we have today. This is how we move forward, if we hadn’t, we’d still be fighting wars with bows and arrows…and the first chopper would never have been invented.

      • Tom

        I not completely sure I concur with your history of the helicopter. In the early 20th century, numerous inventors were making attempts at rotary wing aircraft (as well as fixed wing). With each attempt, other inventors were learning from the failure/success of previous attempts, and trying new things hoping to find solutions….most of this was trial and error. These inventors, just like the Wright brothers, were the state of the art because there wasn’t a professional community of aircraft designers yet. They were at the very start of a budding area of technology where you couldn’t find anyone with an expertise in the field….because there were no experts yet. Just people with ideas and determination. That is a stark contrast of the state of the art today. A century of development and research has made it much more difficult for someone without education and industry experience to provide a valuable incite on where the state of the art is or should be heading.
        Of course we all like to think about the lone inventor who comes up with the next breakthrough in technology while working in his barn…. and that is possible…but rare and unlikely. Besides, the people on this site aren’t coming up with new technologies…. they are just criticizing the work of others. They aren’t discussing a technology that they are developing….simply citing research (by professionals in this aviation field) and saying this company should try what these other guys are doing. The Wright brothers if alive today wouldn’t be on sites like this, they would have pursued their dream of flight through an engineering degree and working in the industry because realistically, that is the only way you will have the tools, education, and opportunity to make a real innovation in this industry.

  • wtpworrier

    It look real sweet on paper, but then most things do. I for one would like to see it, the design is radical and leaps ahead of choppers of today. This will take chopper design to a whole new level.

  • JT Longbow

    As a helicopter community, I’m not sure why we continue to accept “tail rotor tax” on new aircraft. I think Sikorsky’s X2 approach is the way forward. It’s proven technology taken to a transformational level. This is reminiscent of the old Soviet Union behemoths.