Circumstances are colliding that will have significant impact on new civil helicopter development programs for the remainder of the decade. In the West, new civil programs are typically the byproducts of defense spending. And when it comes to dropping defense dollars and euros on new manned helicopter programs, the party might not be over, but it is definitely winding down.
Sikorsky Aircraft named 35 suppliers participating in an industry-funded effort to build two prototype S-97 Raider helicopters for evaluation by the U.S. military. The Raider is a follow-on to the company’s X2 technology demonstrator with coaxial contra-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller.
Max-Viz and Vancouver-based Helijet cooperatively installed the Max-Viz EVS-1500 enhanced vision system on three Sikorsky S-76 helicopters supporting EMS operations under contract with the British Columbia government. The recently added EVS avionics will allow pilots to avoid inadvertent IMC, day or night, in addition to improving crew situational awareness by depicting terrain features and man-made structures at night. These features will enable crews to choose safer routes, Helijet said.
Yesterday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) certified the country’s “new” homegrown heavy-lift helicopter, the AC313. It tips the scales at 27,600 pounds, can carry up to 27 people and has a maximum ferry range of 560 miles and service ceiling of nearly 28,000 feet. The helicopter was built by state-owned Avic, the same company that recently made Chinese-market Sikorsky S-76 airframes under contract.
The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S, which will power the Sikorsky S-76D helicopter, received Canadian certification on October 14, P&WC announced yesterday. Test engines logged more than 8,700 hours in test cells and flight tests as part of the approval process.
Avionics specialist Thales is claiming the Top Deck cockpit of the in-development Sikorsky S-76D medium-twin helicopter will be a “game changer.” It is designed to be “interactive, intuitive, integrated and safe,” Thales told AIN.
The largest privately held offshore oil and gas helicopter operator in the Gulf of Mexico announced a sweeping restructuring last month that includes refinancing, rebranding and the appointment of a new CEO. Rotorcraft Leasing will now be known as RLC. The company announced that it has secured a “strategic investment” of an undisclosed amount from Sankaty Advisors.
Eurocopter has fully launched the replacement program for its AS365/EC155 Dauphin and is targeting 2016 for entry into service for the first iteration, with a more advanced version to enter service several years later. Codenamed X4, the helicopter will feature a radically new cockpit, fly-by-wire controls and low-noise main rotor blades.
Heli-Union, an offshore oil and gas operator based in Toussus-le-Noble, near Paris, celebrated its 50th anniversary and simultaneously inked a firm order for four Eurocopter EC175s. Deliveries are to start in 2013. Meanwhile, it took delivery of two Sikorsky S-76C++s.
Special conditions for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshaft, which is powering the in-development Sikorsky S-76D, have been issued by the FAA and are now effective, on the grounds that the engine has “a novel or unusual design feature”–engine operation in APU mode. Despite the additional testing required, certification of the engine is still targeted for September.