May 23, 2016

While 303 mph may not seem like a noteworthy speed for airplanes, it's a record-shattering feat for a helicopter. Airbus recently submitted a patent for an aircraft that could do just this—but calling it only a helicopter is a little deceiving. The intriguing design pulls inspiration from commercial airplanes (a foray the brand is most certainly well-versed in) in a hybrid plan that helps the helicopter reach top speeds of 263 knots on a descent with a few important parts from its fellow iron bird brethren. 

Here's how it works: when the helicopter is looking to travel at its top speed, it increases its flying height to a low pitch (a height that's ideal for acceleration). At this point, a set of side propellers and wing take over, producing a forward pitch that isn't built-in to traditional helicopters. There's no word on when this design will make it to mass markets (or if it will, at all), but it's always good to keep an eye on the airplane super giants for a peek at the future of flying. Want to learn more about how it works? Check out the video from Patent Yogi above.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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