The Piasecki X-49 is a four-bladed, twin-engined, experimental compound helicopter under development by Piasecki Aircraft. The X-49A is based on the airframe of a Sikorsky YSH-60F Seahawk, but utilizes Piasecki's proprietary vectored thrust ducted propeller (VTDP) design and includes the addition of lifting wings. The concept of the experimental program is to apply the VTDP technology to a production military helicopter to determine any benefit gained through increases in performance or useful load.
"SpeedHawk" is a concept aircraft based on applying X-49A compounding concepts to a production UH-60 Black Hawk offering better performance, range, and increases in useful load. The "SpeedHawk" aircraft includes an SPU (third engine), high forward-swept wing concept, a 45 inch cabin extending fuselage "plug", and several other drag reducing and performance-oriented improvements, including a rotorhead fairing, landing gear streamlining, and a fly-by-wire flight control system.
The U.S. Navy-sponsored project worth US$26.1 million consists of a Sikorsky YSH-60F helicopter modified by Piasecki as a testbed to validate the "Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller" (VTDP) system. One YSH-60F was converted to test the feasibility of VTDP under an advanced technology demonstration program. The YSH-60F is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-701C engines.
The X-49A made its first flight on June 29, 2007 for 15 minutes at Boeing's New Castle County (KILG) flight test center. This flight included hovering, pedal turns, and slow forwards and sideways flight using the VTDP for anti-torque, directional and trim control. The X-49A has completed its initial testing phase, and is continuing with further testing of the technology. Since then, it has flown over 80 flight events with more than 80 total hours logged.