Sikorsky announced early last month that final assembly of the first production S-76D medium twin has begun in Coatesville, Pa.
Czech-based Aero Vodochody delivered the fuselage on November 19–a one-month delay, according to a schedule released in June (see AIN, July 2010, page 58). The fully assembled fuselage arrived with all electric and cockpit systems having passed acceptance tests, Sikorsky emphasized. The helicopter is to be delivered next year to the launch customer.
In November, the program entered "certification flight status," the final phase of testing, expected to lead to FAA sea-level certification by the fourth quarter of this year. Two prototypes are flying at Sikorsky's development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a third one is to join them early next year.
The S-76D program has hit repeated delays–in 2009, certification was still planned for 2010–and the company has declined to be specific on the root causes. The S-76D features a dual-speed main rotor with a quiet mode, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshafts, a digital four-axis autopilot and a Thales TopDeck avionics suite.