The FAA approved an automated rig approach for offshore operators on the Sikorsky S-92, offering new functionality for the medium-twin helicopter. The system is said to “reduce cockpit workload by 60 percent” and allow safer operations under challenging weather and operating conditions. Sikorsky has been developing the “rig approach” system since 2007 in cooperation with operator PHI.
“Automated rig approach had never been done before, so the FAA had no basis on which to compare it,” Sikorsky project pilot Ron Doeppner told AIN. “We couldn’t go to the FAA regulators and say we’re certifying this according to existing data. We’re writing the book on it, working with the operator and the FAA.”
The system will be available as an option and can be retrofitted to aircraft already in service. Thanks to its claimed intuitive interface and a workload cut from 17 pilot-initiated items to only seven, the new capability is expected to improve safety and add barriers to controlled flight into terrain. Some 170 S-92s are flying worldwide.