Sikorsky S-76D Program Delayed Again
First deliveries of the Sikorsky S-76D medium twin–an upgraded derivative of the S-76C++–are now pegged for 2012 following FAA certification, expected in the fourth quarter of next year. This revised schedule means the program has been delayed by at least six months. The U.S. helicopter manufacturer is giving little explanation, citing only “an unexpected event” that prompted suspension of flight tests in April. The issue was solved “quickly” with engine maker Pratt & Whitney Canada and flight testing has since resumed. The two prototypes in the flight-test program have now accumulated 95 flights and 171 hours. A third aircraft will join the test fleet early next year, although Sikorsky had said in February that this addition was planned “soon.” One year ago deliveries were still slated for 2010 before being postponed to 2011 in February. Sikorsky is counting more than 70 “deposited customers,” down from the 100 “delivery position agreements” that were touted last year. The launch customer for the S-76D is VIP charter operator Falcon Aviation Service in the UAE.