This paper proposes an improved method of integral backstepping for real time control of a laboratory helicopter with variable speed rotors known as the Two-Rotor Aero-dynamic System (TRAS). The coupled system is decomposed into the horizontal subsystem (HS) and the vertical subsystem (VS) and traditional backstepping, augmented with direct integral action is designed for each subsystem. The transient response to both constant and time varying references is then simultaneously improved by modifying an already proposed method called dual boundary conditional integration. A switching technique is also employed to enhance the tracking response of the undamped HS for its bidirectional motor which exhibits jerking effects. Experimental results show that the proposed approach yields improved transient and tracking performance when compared to previously proposed methods exploiting conditional integration earlier proposed for improving the transient response of controlled nonlinear systems with integral action. The results also show the robustness of the proposed method in the presence of the coupling effects and additional external disturbance applied to the system in the form of a wind gust. (C) 2019 ISA. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.