- February 10, 2009, 11:03 AM
Sikorsky’s S-76D made its first flight on Saturday at the company’s West Palm Beach, Fla. test facility. The helicopter taxied, hovered, made hover turns and achieved a top forward speed of 40 knots during the 30-minute flight. The flight came three years after Sikorsky began development of the latest S-76 variant. “The next generation of the S-76 helicopter begins today,” said program manager Jason Durno. “The S-76D helicopter brings Sikorsky’s popular S-76 to the next level in performance.” According to Sikorsky, the S-76D will feature upgraded Thales TopDeck avionics and autopilot, all-composite main rotor blades with optional ice protection and new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S engines. It will also have a quiet mode for “enhanced public acceptance,” as well as an increase in useful load and more range than the S-76C++. Sikorsky plans to certify the S-76D and begin deliveries next year. The aircraft will be produced at its Keystone facility in West Chester, Pa. Sikorsky said it has “delivery position agreements” for 100 of the new helicopters.