The FAA granted type certification last Friday for the Sikorsky S-76D medium-twin helicopter, a protracted program that was launched in 2006. Deliveries, which were originally slated to start in late 2010, are now planned to begin later this quarter, as the backlog is “approaching half a billion dollars.”
According to Sikorsky Global Helicopters vice president Ed Beyer, “The S-76D will offer a higher cruise speed than its predecessors, coupled with more efficient fuel burn, making the S-76 more productive than ever.” Deliveries of the original S-76 began in 1979.
The new version features major changes such as Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshafts, a digital four-axis autopilot and a Thales TopDeck avionics suite. With the dual speed main rotor, pilots will also find a quiet mode. Moreover, the all-composite blades are said to be “flaw-tolerant.” A rotor de-icing system for all-weather capability will be available as an option.
Sikorsky attributed the most recent delay in the S-76D’s certification, from the second quarter to this month, to a crack found on an engine mount. Sikorsky’s development engineers believe they understand and have addressed the cause.