Sikorsky Firms Timeline for New S-92 Variants

Audrey Brady, Sikorsky vice president of commercial systems and services, outlined the company’s plans for significant upgrades to the S-92, including a new main gearbox.

Sikorsky’s A+ upgrade kit for legacy S-92 helicopters will be available for customers in 2023, while the S-92B is planned to enter service in 2025, the company announced on the eve of Heli-Expo 2020. It will reveal prices for both variants on Tuesday at the show.

Audrey Brady, Sikorsky vice president of commercial systems and services, said the timing of the rollouts was designed to accommodate customers’ fleet planning decision cycles. In talking to customers in the ensuing months after Sikorsky first announced the programs last year at Heli-Expo, Sikorsky determined that the ability to retrofit the new main gearbox was their customers’ top priority.

The new gearbox fits into the existing space for the legacy component and provides for increased time between overhaul interval of up to 25 percent. The extra weight of the new gearbox is offset with weight savings elsewhere on the aircraft. Sikorsky has both ground tested and flight tested the new gearbox.

During ground testing, the gearbox ran for more than seven hours and the test was halted only when the engineers got to the time when the helicopter would have run out of a full load of fuel. The new “Phase IV” gearbox was also flown for more than 200 flight hours and also later torn down and inspected in the presence of the FAA.

Notably, the design uses a supplemental fuel pump and additional oil lines to reuse main gearbox oil that is accumulated in a lower sump in the event of primary lubrication failure. While some other OEMs have developed “run dry” gearboxes that can function for between 30 and 50 minutes without primary lubrication, Sikorsky found this of dubious value given the offshore distances some of its customers must fly.

When secondary lubrication kicks in, the event generates a “technical indicator” back to Sikorsky to facilitate troubleshooting once the impacted helicopter lands or returns to base. Brady said customers greeted the new gearbox enthusiastically and want it “as soon as possible.”

The new gearbox can be fitted to existing helicopters as part of the current 1,500-hour inspection, she said, and is just one of several menu items that can be selected for the A+ upgrade. Other options under the upgrade include an increased gross weight kit to 27,700 pounds and an uprated engine, the GE CT7-8A6, that offers better payload capability and high and hot performance. The new engine, which was certified in June, allows customers to operate with both full seats and full fuel under most conditions.

Kit options will be rolled out progressively, Brady said. They also include the previously disclosed Matrix advanced flight computing hardware and software. Matrix enables other new Sikorsky technology such as Rig Approach 2.0 and SuperSearch. For offshore missions, Rig Approach permits the helicopter to fly a mission profile to within a quarter-mile of the helideck on an oil rig.

All of the features on the A+ kit will be incorporated into the B model, along with several other improvements such as 20 percent larger cabin windows, titanium sideframes that increase fuselage service life, and a common cabin door for offshore and SAR missions. Other options are being contemplated for the S-92B, including electrochromatic window shading. Brady said the air conditioning system in the current S-92 is sufficiently robust to compensate for any increased solar heating due to the larger window area.

Sikorsky’s communications manager, Eric Schnaible, said the A+ and the B models demonstrate Sikorsky’s ongoing commitment to the civil helicopter market.

Source: / Mark Huber

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Sikorsky Introduces S-92A+™ And S-92B™ Helicopters

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company (NYSE: LMT), today announced new plans for its S-92® helicopter line that will re-designate fielded helicopters as the S-92A+ after modification, and newly produced aircraft as the S-92B. The two variants will share a nearly identical configuration, with S-92B helicopters also featuring enlarged cabin windows and plans for a common cabin door suitable for offshore and SAR configurations. The announcement came at the 2019 Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo show.

The S-92 helicopter boasts a best-in-class safety record and sets the industry standard for reliability. These changes to the venerable S-92 helicopter will introduce new technology that is focused on reliability and operating cost reduction, while at the same time delivering increased capability. Changes will increase commonality of the aircraft between the offshore, SAR, and utility configurations and allow for speedier reconfiguration between roles, making it an even better choice for operators that want a diverse aircraft capable of multiple missions. Sikorsky expects to launch an hourly aftermarket support program, reflecting a targeted economic improvement of the S-92A+ and S-92B, that will be available concurrent with deliveries.

Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopter fleet update will include the introduction of phase one MATRIXTM technology that will bring advanced computing power to the platform. This foundation enables adoption of autonomous landing technology such as Rig ApproachTM 2.0 and a new technology from Sikorsky’s Innovations lab called SuperSearchTM that uses advanced algorithms to locate objects up to 30 percent faster. Both aircraft will include SAR AFCS and a newly designed interior that is lighter and common to both SAR and OSO missions.

Notably, both configurations will include the Phase IV main gearbox. This gearbox has been validated to exceed the requirements of CFR 29.927(c) as demonstrated by full-scale testing witnessed by the FAA. All of the primary lubrication system oil was removed prior to operating the gearbox for the equivalent of over 500 nautical miles of flight at an airspeed of 80 knots. No discernable anomalies were identified during the post-test examination.

General Electric’s CT7-8A6 engine, capable of producing more power in higher altitudes and hotter temperatures, also will be available as an option for both the S-92A+ and S-92B products.

Sikorsky has significantly invested to bring these capabilities into production, but will let market interest determine the pace of remaining internal research and development spending. Current plans have initial availability set for 2022 and have an S-92B helicopter price target below historical S-92 prices. The S-92A+ kit is being designed to allow common fleet benefit at an economical targeted price.

“Our S-92 aircraft has set the standard for modern helicopters, and we’re excited with these changes that will ensure it remains so,” said Audrey Brady, Sikorsky Vice President, Commercial Systems & Services. “Reliability means safety. Reliability means economics. With these updates and an unmatched cabin size and capacity, our customers will see an economic benefit demonstrating that the S-92 is the best choice in helicopter missions near or far.”

“We think safety is a good investment, and so we welcome Sikorsky’s investment in this significant new technology, which will drive greater reliability, resilience and operational capability,” said Gretchen Haskins, CEO of HeliOffshore.

Since 2004, Sikorsky has delivered more than 300 production S-92 helicopters. The industry standard for safety and reliability, the S-92 helicopter is the preferred aircraft of its size class for offshore oil worker transportation. In 2018, the fleet flew 175,000 hours, a record for the fleet, contributing to a total of nearly 1.5 million hours flown.

For more information visit Sikorsky Commercial Systems & Services.

About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

SOURCE Lockheed Martin

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Sikorsky and Boeing release first photos of SB>1 Defiant

Sikorsky and Boeing have released the first photos of the SB>1 Defiant helicopter the companies have developed for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role technology demonstrator (JMR TD) program.

The compound helicopter, which has a coaxial main rotor system and rear pusher prop, is based on Sikorsky’s X2 technology, and is one of two designs participating in JMR TD. The other is Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor, which has been flying for a little over a year.

Although Sikorsky and Boeing were aiming to fly the SB>1 Defiant before the end of 2018, the companies told reporters on Dec. 12 that “minor problems” discovered on the powertrain system test bed would delay first flight until “early 2019.”

JMR TD is a precursor to Future Vertical Lift, the program that aims to replace the Army’s existing helicopter fleet with next-generation technology. The SB>1 Defiant and V-280 Valor have been conceived as possible replacements for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache beginning in the 2030s.

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Enstrom receives New Zealand type certificate for F-28F, 280FX, and 480B

Menominee, Michigan. October, 2018 – Enstrom Helicopter Corporation was granted New Zealand Type Acceptance for its Enstrom F-28/280/480 Series helicopters by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand in September.

“The Enstrom helicopters, with their rugged features and great safety record are a perfect fit for New Zealand,” said Dennis Martin, Director of Marketing and Sales. “The three bladed, fully articulated rotor system is a good choice for the windy conditions & mountainous terrain.”

Enstrom piston aircraft have been operating successfully in New Zealand for many years, however, this latest Type Acceptance updates to the latest certification on those aircraft and also approves Enstrom’s turbine powered 480B for operation in New Zealand.  “We are very excited about introducing the 480B to New Zealand,” commented Martin.  “Already the first 480B is on its way from the US, and we look forward to customers there getting a chance to see what a modern, cost effective turbine Enstrom can do.”

Enstrom’s entire product line is currently certified in over 40 countries including the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

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S-92 will be leading North Sea copter ‘for decades’

Written by Allister Thomas

Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky has claimed its S-92 will remain the leading helicopter in the North Sea “for decades to come”.

The claim – from vice president of business development and strategy Nathalie Previte – may be a fair one. The aircraft is widely favoured by passengers and pilots alike and has a strong track record on reliability.

Its dominance in the North Sea is reflected in the fact the region has accounted for nearly half of all S-92 flight hours this year, despite the helicopter operating in 25 countries around the world.

The aircraft also has a 95% availability rating and has won a raft of awards proving its safety merits.

However, some concern has been raised that, despite the S-92’s immaculate record, it could be too dominant in the North Sea, with a union last month claiming any grounding would cripple the sector.

The claims came from Industri Energi (IE), a Norwegian union, however Ms Previte was quick to dismiss them.

She said: “It’s interesting that someone would say there’s no competition when there’s obviously an oversupply in the oil and gas market.

“Grounding is not a high risk, it is a very, very low probability if at all.

“We are very confident and proud of the S-92’s reliability. There was a time when the oil and gas industry was concerned when another aircraft was removed from flying offshore. We have had a lot of people from the North Sea and the unions come and visit us to talk about safety offshore and ensuring the safety of the aircraft.

“We have seen a trend of increased flight hours. Our availability metric is close to 95%, that speaks volumes about the performance and reliability of the aircraft.

“There are many industries that have selected just one product and they don’t talk about ‘what if’, they talk about what has been tested and proven. The S-92 is in that category that is proven.

“We do have a loyal customer base and that’s because the missions are performed at all times. Our availability is unmatched.”

The IE union said, on the Norwegian side, “all the eggs were in one basket” with the S-92.

That is not necessarily the case in the UK, with some operators using other helicopters like the H175 and AW189, however the S-92 is the dominant force in the region.

Part of the North Sea’s reliance on the S-92 has come from the grounding of Super Puma helicopters following a fatal crash in Norway in 2016.

Thirteen people were killed in the incident off the island of Turoy, including Iain Stuart from Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire.

Despite a worldwide grounding of Super Pumas since being lifted, the aircraft has not returned to service in the North Sea, with trade unions staunchly opposed to them ever being used again.

In light of this, it is perhaps unsurprising the S-92 has become the helicopter of choice. However, despite its strong track record, the aircraft has not been without its own issues.

The S-92 made headlines for the wrong reasons in 2016 when a helicopter spun on the West Franklin platform in the North Sea.

The incident saw the S-92 spin more than 180 degrees on the platform deck but no one was hurt.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch later found that had the fault happened any earlier the helicopter could have crashed into the sea.

Investigators later found there was a bearing failure in the tail rotor that engineers had not identified.

Sikorsky has taken a number of steps to improve safety since then, including the introduction of its real-time Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) to track the health of the aircraft.

The HUMS system is connected to S-92s around the world including the North Sea, which Sikorsky said allows it to predict events by analysing data from across the fleet in real time.

The data is assessed by Sikorsky engineers at a 24-hour customer service centre.

Ms Previte added: “Today with adding a HUMS sensor and through the various efforts that we released to our operators, we are confident that the S-92 pitch change shaft bearing situation is mitigated.

“Over the last three years we have invested tens of millions of dollars in data analytics. Our system reviews the data of our entire fleet and safety has improved so much.

“When that (tail spin) happened we communicated with all our customers to make sure that they were monitoring components in the right way. We are very, very confident in the S-92.”

Sikorsky’s S-92 fleet has carried out thousands of flight hours this year already, with almost 16,000 in March.

Of that, the energy sector accounted for nearly 14,000 hours and the Sikorsky is projecting this year will beat the 170,000 overall hours flown in 2017.

Ms Previte believes the S-92 will maintain its dominance in the North Sea, but will not sit idly.

She adds that the original S-92 is not the same model as today, and further developments are on the way for as technology progresses.

She said: “The S-92 is the industry leading standard and will remain for many decades to come. I would also say that the S-92 today is not the same one that was launched in 2004. We are always looking at product enhancement.

“We have technology developing in theatres of innovation that can be inserted into the S-92 and will ensure value to our customers and the people travelling in the helicopter.”

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Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company (NYSE: LMT), today announced that Thai Aviation Services has accumulated 10,000 flight hours on its S-76D™ fleet in record time of less than two years.

This milestone was achieved just a few months after TAS began operating as Sikorsky’s first Customer Support Center in Thailand.

“We genuinely value the trust and confidence Thai Aviation Services has demonstrated in Sikorsky products over the past three decades,” said Audrey Brady, Sikorsky vice president of Commercial Systems & Services. “Sikorsky is extremely proud to provide TAS with safe, reliable aircraft to support such a high operational tempo with first-rate availability.”

TAS operates a total of eight Sikorsky helicopters, including five S-76D medium-lift helicopters, two S-92® heavy lift helicopters and one S-76C++™ helicopter. TAS has conducted its offshore operations for oil and gas producing companies for 30 years, utilizing Sikorsky helicopters exclusively.

Since 1977, Sikorsky has delivered more than 875 S-76® helicopters to customers around the world. The offshore oil transportation mission accounts for 65 percent of the more than 7.25 million hours flown by the entire Sikorsky S-76 fleet. The S-76 line of helicopters is also well-known for high reliability with VIP transportation and utility work, search and rescue operations and helicopter air ambulance transportation.

TAS is also forecasting that the flight of its 100,000th S-76D revenue passenger will occur later this fall.

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