Russian Helicopters is stepping up efforts to strengthen its base of international partners. The move is in part driven by the fact that it can no longer count on Ukrainian engine suppliers Motor-Sich and Ivchenko-Progress in the wake of ongoing political tensions.
Powered ground tests of the Sikorsky CH-53K, the U.S. Marine Corps’ future heavy-lift helicopter, are now well under way at the company’s West Palm Beach, Florida facility in the run-up to first flight later this year. The first ground-test vehicle (GTV1) started systems testing in late April, about a week before the first flying article was rolled out on May 5. Operational service of the mostly composite helicopter, which has been dubbed the “King Stallion,” is expected in 2019.
Sikorsky Aircraft powered on its S-97 Raider prototype on May 28 at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida, marking the successful installation of the avionics system and a major step toward completing the assembly of the new light tactical rotorcraft. A contender for the U.S.
Consumer electronics manufacturers, former toy and hobby suppliers, research university spinoffs and major aerospace companies are among the entities vying for a share of the simmering commercial market for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) generally weighing less than 20 pounds. They are advancing numerous fixed- and rotary-wing designs, some of which were displayed at the Unmanned Systems 2014 conference in May and others elsewhere. Following is a description of some, although by no means all, of the recent showings:
The first Bell 525 Relentless super-medium twin helicopter is moving closer to final assembly at Bell Helicopter’s plant in Amarillo, Texas. Matt Hasik, Bell’s senior vice president of commercial programs, told AIN that the three main cabin sections will be joined within the next few weeks. He also said that the first carbon-fiber, all-composite main rotor blade for the 525 has been completed and is undergoing testing.
Marenco Swisshelicopter is still preparing to fly its SH09 SKYe single-turbine helicopter. The company is finalizing testing of the major systems, a spokesman told AIN. “We have done a number of trials on the aircraft,” he said. In addition, the “whirl tower” test bench is running at full speed with the main rotor head and gearbox. Certification of the 5,840-pound-mtow rotorcraft is expected in the second half of next year.
Sikorsky and Lord have completed the flight demonstration of a hub-mounted vibration suppressor (HMVS) intended to address crew fatigue and reduced equipment reliability caused by helicopter vibration. Eventually, the HMVS could be part of a larger system integrated into all Sikorsky helicopters.
The U.S. State Department is still awaiting the delivery of 13 refurbished Sikorsky S-61T Triton helicopters it ordered under a 2010 umbrella contract, initially to support the diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. The department has already received 16 modernized S-61Ns.
A Sino-Russian effort to develop a new advanced heavy helicopter was discussed during the recent visit to Shanghai by a Russian delegation headed by President Putin. According to Russian Helicopters general director Alexander Mikeyev, his company has been discussing the project with China’s Avicopter since 2008. “The main parameters of the project have been agreed on. But the work is not yet complete,” he said.
Bell Helicopter executives told AIN that the company will be pursuing initial type certification of its new 505 Jet Ranger X light single from Transport Canada and will conduct prototype assembly and flight-testing of the aircraft from its plant in Mirabel, Quebec. First flight is expected later this year.