The Sikorsky S-76D medium-twin helicopter is continuing its envelope expansion and is approaching the first customer delivery. The initial certification received in October was just a baseline, suitable for most operators and most conditions, Sikorsky director of commercial programs Dan Hunter told AIN.
As part of the envelope expansion, the helicopter’s max cruising altitude is being raised from 10,000 feet to 15,000 feet. Acceptable temperatures are being extended for operations in cold and hot environments, to -31 degrees F (-35 degrees C) from -15 degrees F (-26 degrees C) and to 113 degrees F (45 degrees C) from 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). Maximum landing and takeoff altitudes are also being increased, Hunter said.
Simultaneously, S-76D deliveries are taking place to completion centers, with a total of 10 of these handovers expected by next week, Hunter said. The first customer expects to have its S-76D in service in August.
The new version of the S-76 features Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshafts, a digital four-axis autopilot and Thales TopDeck avionics. Further into the program, the S-76D’s autopilot will likely be offered with the “rig approach” function that was certified earlier this month on the S-92.