Sikorsky is confident its upgraded medium-twin helicopter, the S-76D, will make its first flight in the fourth quarter of next year, vice president Europe Bruce McKinney said here at the show during a press conference on Monday. The program’s schedule slipped at some point because of resources being reallocated to the military CH-53K but the S-76D program is now fully staffed, McKinney told Aviation International News.
Sikorsky engineers are building the all-composite blades for the main rotor. It will feature an anti-ice protection system, derived from that of the bigger S-92. In addition, Pratt & Whitney Canada has been running its PW210S turboshaft engine, which has been designed for the new helicopter version. Three development engines have logged some 200 hours in ground tests. Wind tunnel tests have been performed to check engine inlet icing. Overall S-76 aerodynamics were tried in the tunnel, too.
According to McKinney, development of the Thales TopDeck cockpit is well under way. The new man-machine interface features large LCD screens in a four-abreast configuration. Each pilot has a cursor control device “in a very natural position,” McKinney emphasized. The TopDeck concept has significant growth capabilities–possible integration of synthetic vision, for instance. Other S-76D features include an improved health usage and monitoring system (HUMS), additional fuel, a quiet gearbox and new electric generators.
Sikorsky has received “more than 50” commitments for the S-76D. FAA and EASA certification are pegged for the fourth quarter of 2009.
Production on Sikorsky’s commercial side has been constantly increasing since the early 2000s. It is expected to reach 70 S-76 series and S-92 helicopters next year.