Advancements in automation for offshore navigation and increased maximum gross weight capability are among the enhancements Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. engineers have planned for the company's S-92 helicopter. Sikorsky's S-76D helicopter, the next generation model in the S-76 helicopter series, is continuing its flight envelope expansion, with features that include all-composite, flaw-tolerant main rotor blades; an advanced Thales avionics system and autopilot; dual speed rotor with active vibration control; Pratt & Whitney Canada 210S engines; a quiet mode for enhanced public acceptance; and an optional Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS) for all-weather capability.
Further improvements to the Rotor Ice Protection System have been deployed and are the result of steady work on the system since the 2009 icing season, says Marc Poland, vice president of Sikorsky Global Helicopters. "We have worked hard to significantly improve the reliability and maintainability of all RIPS components, and sub-systems."
Poland made his comments during a press briefing this month to outline Sikorsky's plans for its commercial helicopter programs, which include the S-434, S-300C, S-92, H-92 and S-76 helicopters.
Among the key improvements being planned for the S-92 helicopter are increased maximum gross weight from 26,500 pounds to more than 27,000 pounds; improvements to the durability of the main gear box; limited icing certification; and a fully coupled and automated approach capability that will allow pilots to approach offshore platforms with greater safety and lower minimums, Sikorsky officials say
The S-76D helicopter also will offer an increase in useful load and extended range performance versus the S-76C+ and S-76C++ aircraft currently fielded. The S-76D prototype D1 is in active flight test with prototype D2 in final check-out, preparing for flight in October, Poland says. Build-up of a third prototype is under way at Sikorsky Global Helicopters' Coatesville, Pa., facility, with anticipated delivery to the flight test center later this year.
"Sikorsky remains committed to improving reliability and operability, and these enhancements for the S-92 helicopter are the result of that commitment," Poland says. "We continue to grow our products with a focus on customer satisfaction, safety and dedication to the innovative philosophy that has been the hallmark of Sikorsky Aircraft."