HAI Convention News

Heli-Expo 2011: Marenco Unveils SKYe Light Helicopter

 - March 4, 2011, 10:26 AM

A Swiss engineering firm is proposing to build an ambitious new carbon-fiber, single-engine helicopter, the SKYe SH09, and will reveal a full-scale mock-up of it on Sunday, the opening day of Heli-Expo 2011.

Marenco Swisshelicopter (Booth No. 5120) plans to fly a prototype of the 5,200-pound single next year and begin customer deliveries in 2015. The $2.6 million (2011 dollars) helicopter will be powered by a single Fadec-controlled Honeywell HTS900 engine, be equipped with Sagem glass panel avionics, cruise at 145 knots and have a range of 430 nm. Targeted useful load is 2,800 pounds (internal, 3,300 pounds external).

The SKYe SH09 will feature a quiet five-blade main rotor system, a large shrouded tail rotor, passenger seating for six to eight, a flat-floor cabin designed to be reconfigured quickly and clamshell doors. It also is designed with a floor window for managing sling loads. Martin Stucki, Marenco CEO, said the development phase of the program is “completely funded.”

Stucki said the helicopter is aimed at customers who want the cabin space of a twin with the operating economics of a single, and good high/hot performance. He said the latter would make the helicopter a natural choice for parapublic mountain rescue organizations and air ambulances.

Marenco commercial director Mathias Senes said the market is ready for a new big single in the absence of fresh production offerings from established OEMs. “There hasn’t been a truly brand-new single-engine helicopter developed since the 1970s. They are all evolutions from original designs. We started with a blank sheet of paper. We have the same ergonomics, and in some cases better, than what has been developed for the twin-engine market.” Senes said the helicopter’s design incorporates automotive industry innovations. “We’ve integrated a lot of automotive concepts. [For example], our railed flooring system is modular and flexible.”

Stucki said this flexibility will make the SH09 a true multi-mission helicopter. “Because you can use this helicopter for different missions on the same day, it was important to design a cabin that you could reconfigure very fast.”

Marenco is a contract mechanical engineering firm, and Stucki is a veteran helicopter pilot. The company employs a team of 30 engineers. Stucki said the firm plans to rely heavily on suppliers to provide major assemblies, and final assembly will be done at a former Swiss military airfield near Zurich. The company is negotiating for additional land adjacent to the site. The helicopter was designed extensively with computational fluid dynamics, but wind tunnel testing will be done later this year in South Africa.