HAI Convention News

Sikorsky’s growth pushes production outside Stratford

 - March 15, 2007, 10:01 AM

Jeff Pino, Sikorsky Aircraft president, laid out what he called the four pillars for Sikorsky’s future at a Heli-Expo press conference here. These are, he said, growth, excellence in execution, defining X2 technology applications and globalization. He said Sikorsky’s $3.2 billion in total revenue last year set a record for the company. Total revenue in 2005 was $2.8 billion.

Given the projected strength in military, commercial and service-support markets, Pino said Sikorsky is on track to double its 2003 revenues, which were $2 billion, by next year. He said the company has 10 products in production today and six active development programs, compared with just three products in production in 2000.

This growth is putting a strain on Sikorsky’s main facilities in Stratford, Conn., where “you can’t find a parking space anymore,” said Pino. To address this problem, he said, the company is not building unique configurations of aircraft in Stratford anymore, just the basic designs and then sending aircraft elsewhere for completion. West Chester, Pa.-based Keystone Helicopter Holdings, which Sikorsky acquired in December 2005, now does all S-76 completions. “Schweizer will become the Keystone of Sikorsky military aircraft,” said Pino. Sikorsky acquired Schweizer Aircraft of Elmira, N.Y., in 2004.

The growth has also sent Sikorsky looking for international production locations. In early January, the company announced it had reached an agreement to acquire aircraft maker PZL Mielec from the Polish government. Upon completion of this acquisition, expected soon, Sikorsky plans to modernize the factory and tooling at PZL Mielec to support production of the International Black Hawk and to continue Mielec’s current capability for aircraft design, manufacture, flight test and delivery. Further east, AVIC II will begin delivering helicopter parts to Schweizer this year. “Globalization does not just mean selling internationally,” said Pino, “It means being there as well.”

Regarding X2 technology, Pino said he slowed down the program because of the financial situation following the two-month-long strike of 3,600 Sikorsky hourly employees that began on February 19 last year. He said all the dynamic components for the X2 have been made and he expects to turn the project fully on by the middle of the year. First flight of the X2 demonstrator, with its unique coaxial rotors, could come within six months after that.