HAI Convention News

Under New Ownership, Sikorsky Looks to the Future

 - March 2, 2016, 9:30 AM
Sikorsky Aircraft president Dan Schultz (Photo: Mariano Rosales)

Making its debut as a Lockheed Martin company at this year’s Heli-Expo, Sikorsky is looking to re-energize its business, as it aims to leverage the newfound synergies realized in its recent merger. “We at Lockheed Martin have been looking at how do we grow in this really complicated world,” said Sikorsky Aircraft president Dan Schultz, who is attending his first commercial helicopter show. He was tapped to lead the company after the completion of the rotorcraft manufacturer’s purchase last November. “We are 100 percent committed to the commercial helicopter market.”

In his media address Tuesday morning, Schultz, previously vice president of Lockheed Martin’s ship and aviation systems business line and a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot, noted the two companies were not exactly strangers to each other at the time of purchase, having collaborated on several projects in the past, including the SH-60 Seahawk and the VH-92 presidential helicopter.

He pointed to areas such as automation, automated logistics and geo-synchronized satellite data as areas where the two manufacturers’ abilities will meet. “We’re bringing technology to this area where we have not had OEM capability for helicopters in the past.”

Addressing the major issue currently impacting the industry Dana Fiatarone, Sikorsky’s vice president of commercial systems and services, noted, “I will tell you the oil-and-gas market is down. That’s not a secret; Sikorsky was impacted by that not unlike the rest of the OEMs.” Despite that downturn, Sikorsky announced here at the show that it has received an order for five S-76Ds and two S-92s from Thai Aviation Services to renew its fleet of offshore transports.

While the rotorcraft manufacturer’s deliveries were down more than 50 percent in 2015 compared with the previous year, Fiatarone recalled the last occasion such a downturn occurred, as well as the swift recovery the industry experienced. “I would love to tell you that’s going to happen again this time, but I don’t know,” he told the audience. “What we want do in the interim is make certain that we create a level of flexibility so that when the market does rebound we have the capacity to support our customer requirements as they come in.”

In the meantime, Sikorsky is looking to increase its footprint in other segments.

“We can’t forget that there are customers out there as well,” said Fiatarone, “so we have dedicated sales teams out there looking at search-and-rescue opportunities, emergency medical services opportunities and VIP opportunities, and we think we have two terrific products in the S-76D and the S-92 in particular to meet those needs.”

Looking ahead, Sikorsky has already had discussions with its new ownership regarding the expansion of the company’s product line, “whether that’s a medium aircraft, a lighter aircraft or significant upgrades to our existing portfolio,” Fiatarone stated.

Among the milestones the company expects to achieve this year is one million flight hours in its S-92 fleet (in operation since 2004) and the 10,000-flight-hour mark by the S-76D (entered service in 2014). In the more than three decades since its introduction, the S-76 family has logged more than 7 million flight hours.