Mitsubishi has contracted with Sikorsky to acquire 11 S-76Ds for search-and-rescue operations by the Japan Coast Guard. Meanwhile, in China, Citic Offshore Helicopter has ordered two S-92s for offshore oil transportation. Sikorsky plans to deliver the new S-92s in December next year and March 2015. In another Chinese deal, Sikorsky and Zhuhai Helicopter announced a contract for four Sikorsky S-92s to be used for offshore missions.
Bristow is retrofitting a fleet of 44 Sikorsky S-76C++s and Sikorsky S-92As with Rockwell Collins’s traffic alert and collision avoidance (Tcas II) system. Installations are in progress. A new-generation system, the TTR-4100, will be fitted to 20 of the helicopters. It adds traffic computer capability and enables automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) in.
It was six years ago that Sabreliner decided to enter the helicopter modification business. The company has since found a growing niche market in UH-60M Black Hawk modification and cabin refurbishment, transforming these rough-and-tumble combat aircraft into luxurious executive transport for heads-of-state around the world.
The St. Louis-based company most recently delivered executive variants of the Black Hawk to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, bringing the total number of highly modified UH-60Ms to 11.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm headed by NetJets founder Richard Santulli, closed a new $300 million credit facility yesterday. The company will use these proceeds to acquire and lease helicopters–including Sikorsky S-92s, Eurocopter EC225s and AgustaWestland AW189s and AW139s–valued at $400 million to affiliates of Bristow Group. The credit facility is the largest ever for a helicopter lessor, the company said.
The FAA has certified a new functionality on the Sikorsky S-92: an automated rig approach for offshore operators intended to decrease workload when the crew is in a critical flight phase. Sikorsky intends eventually to bring the same capability to the smaller S-76D.
The S-92’s autopilot already had a search-and-rescue (SAR) mode that could fly the rotorcraft to a point in space. Sikorsky design engineers, collaborating with operator PHI, built on this mode to create the new functionality. In addition, the weather radar ensures the flight path is free from obstacles.
On March 26 this year the UK’s Department for Transport announced that Bristow Helicopters (part of the U.S.-based Bristow Group) had won the contract to provide a search and rescue helicopter service for the whole of the UK. The 10-year, £1.6 billion contract will officially begin implementation in April 2015, and will be fully in place by 2017, managed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Sikorsky has delivered the first of two VIP S-92s to the Turkish National Police for service to the Turkish Prime Ministry, under a contract signed in 2011. The new helicopters will support the head-of-state function, currently served by one S-92.
In Afghanistan, soldiers still pull the trigger. Civilian contractors do almost everything else. While the U.S. and its allies may be preparing for a troop draw-down there next year, for the contractors flying an assortment of 50 helicopters in country, things have never been busier or better.
In parallel with global business jet sales, pilot training activity is, for the most part, stable and growing somewhat, particularly in new markets. At the same time, flight-training providers are reporting unprecedented growth in the civil helicopter sector, with much of this being driven by a surge in demand for rotorcraft support in the booming offshore oil and gas industries, plus the deployment of new-generation helicopter simulator technology.
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.