X3 Gyroplane Uses 15 Blades to Race at 253MPH

Looks like the autogyros, a.k.a., gyrocopters, are definitely back in fashion. Following the Sikorsky X2 demonstrator, here is the latest one, the Eurocopter X3. It uses twin five-blade turboprops in addition to its main five blade rotor.

Invented by Juan de la Cierva in 1923, the autogyro was the precursor of the modern helicopter. It combined a conventional propeller, wings, and a vertically-powered rotor that allowed for vertical take-off and landing. It was quite successful, although it didn't have a lot of utility at the time, despite its obvious advantages over regular planes.

X3 Gyroplane Uses 15 Blades to Race at 253MPHS

The concept of combining vertical and horizontal engines kept evolving, like this Fairey Rotodyne prototype XE521.

X3 Gyroplane Uses 15 Blades to Race at 253MPHS

Now, companies are looking into it again, so civil and military passengers could enjoy the speed of turboprop aircraft while being able to land in a very small strip of land. According to the European company, the Eurocopter X3 will be able to zoom at 220 knots, although the testing will only take it to 180 knots this December. If all goes well, it would reach its top mark in March 2011.

According to the company, they wanted to increase the speed of a vertical take-off and landing aircraft without significantly increasing the cost. [Eurocopter via Black Horizon via Telstar Logistics]