Although popular with police, EMS and offshore operators in Europe and Asia since its introduction in 1999, the Airbus Helicopters (née Eurocopter) EC155 has been slow to catch on in the U.S. market. Customers panned the initial model for its unreliability and inadequate engine power. Those issues were largely addressed with an improved variant, the EC155B1, which entered production in 2002 and introduced uprated engines.
Sikorsky and Lord completed flight-testing a hub-mounted vibration suppressor (HMVS) in March, the companies said yesterday.
The system seeks to address crew fatigue and reduced equipment reliability caused by helicopter vibration. The HMVS testbed was a UH-60A Black Hawk, which accelerated from a hover to 150 knots, performed autorotations and made turns with 60 degrees of bank.
Sikorsky Aircraft vice president of research and engineering Mark Miller confirmed that the Stratford, Conn.-based helicopter manufacturer plans to develop a civilian version of the S-97 Raider, which is a contender for the U.S. Army’s armed aerial scout program. The S-97, he said, is a production-ready, “scaled-up version of the X2 demonstrator,” with both helicopters having contrarotating rotor blades and a pusher propeller that enables high-speed forward flight. A civil variant of the S-97 would be “ideal” for offshore oil, search and rescue and VIP transport, according to Miller.
MD Helicopters showed off its prototype MD540A armed scout helicopter last week at the Sofex show in Jordan, marking the type’s first appearance outside the U.S. The choice of venue was made to highlight the type’s credentials in an area where its hot-and-high performance is of considerable interest, at a show where its special-forces support capability is highly relevant, and in a country that has a requirement for a new armed helicopter.
Sikorsky Aircraft rolled out the CH-53K, the U.S. Marine Corps’ future heavy lift helicopter, on May 5 at the company’s West Palm Beach, Fla. facility. According to Sikorsky, the mostly composite helicopter–dubbed the “King Stallion”–will fly by year-end, with operational service expected in 2019.
The U.S. Navy on May 7 announced a $1.24 billion contract award to Sikorsky Aircraft to begin engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the long-delayed VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program. The EMD contract calls for Sikorsky to modify and deliver six civil-certified S-92s and two trainer simulators by October 2020.
The CAE/AgustaWestland Rotorsim joint venture has received EASA and Italian ENAC approval for its CAE Series 3000 AW189 full-motion simulator to level-D qualifications. The new simulator will be based at AgustaWestland’s new simulation building at the A. Marchetti Training Academy in Sesto Calende, Italy.
CAE and Brazilian helicopter operator Lider Aviaçao launched a helicopter pilot training program in São Paulo for the Sikorsky S-92. The CAE-Lider Aviaçao joint venture purchased the S-92 simulator late last year, though it was identified at the time only as an undisclosed customer. The S-92 training program under the joint venture will support flight training for all of Lider’s S-92 pilots, as well as those from other helicopter operators in the region.
There were some surprises in the new-helicopter department at the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo show, held during the last week of February, but the big news this year was the crop of orders, especially from helicopter leasing companies.