Yesterday I flew back from Barcelona. As I got home, I found my mailbox – the “real” one – stuffed with envelopes, letters, publicity, etc. But I also had a couple of magazines I am subscribed to, including IEEE’s Spectrum.

I just skimmed it a bit, but found a news I wanted to share here because it falls into the caregory of cool things related to technology I like to post about here.

The helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky has designed a new model that can beat the current speed record for helicopters, claimed by a modified Westland Lynx in 1986, is 400 kilometers per hour. At Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a new helicopter has been build that improves and reutilizes$ all the present features in older models – such as the coaxial double rotor and a variable-pitch pusher propeller -, the Sikorsky X2.

(From IEEE’s Spectrum Magazine)

At Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., in Stratford, Conn., we decided in the 1970s that we wanted to build a really fast helicopter. The goal was to reach 480 km/h without sacrificing the vehicle’s other strengths. Almost 40 years later, Sikorsky is now close to meeting that goal. In August 2010, a technology demonstrator, known as the X2, reached 435 km/h, unofficially breaking the helicopter speed record. A few hurdles remain before Sikorsky can claim the official record, which is maintained by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world’s air sports organization. Having gotten this far, we anticipate that Sikorsky will soon begin producing commercial helicopters using X2 technologies.

To take a crack at the speed record, we had to make some fundamental changes to conventional helicopter design. The reason why becomes clear when you consider the difference between how helicopters and airplanes fly.