PHI flew the first operational automated “rig approach” to a platform in the Gulf of Mexico in a Sikorsky S-92 on November 14. Sikorsky and PHI developed the system to reduce pilot workload and the FAA approved its functionality earlier this year. The system is expected to be offered on the Sikorsky S-76D as well.
Rig approach reduces the number of pilot-initiated items on approach and eliminates manual flying during the intermediate stages, including IAF, FAF and FDP. It incorporates data from the FMS, GPS and radar altimeter aboard the aircraft as well as wind data from the rig. The system can build an approach in 20 seconds and can be activated to fly the approach with a single button. On two-person crews, the pilot flying looks for visual cues while the non-flying pilot monitors the approach. Sikorsky expects the system to work in weather as low as 200 feet and a quarter mile.
“This milestone culminates a five-year joint development effort between PHI and Sikorsky for rig approach. This new capability improves helicopter safety and operations for the offshore oil industry by reducing crew workload, increasing situational awareness and enhancing on-time performance,” said Carey Bond, president of Sikorsky Global Helicopters.
The system can be retrofitted on existing S-92s with upgraded hardware and software.