Sikorsky's S-92 To Undergo Design Changes
by Paul Richfield
06/07/00 05:31:20 PM U.S. EDT
Sikorsky plans to incorporate a number of significant design changes into its new S-92 helicopter, in a bid to improve the aircraft’s handling characteristics and utility.
Tommy Thomason, Sikorsky’s civil programs chief, said search and rescue operators’ need for a larger door drove the redesign, which will delay FAA certification from its original December 2001 timeframe until the spring of 2002.
To accommodate a 50-in. door (an 8-in. extension), the S-92 will receive a 16-in. fuselage plug aft of the cockpit that will move the helicopter’s center of gravity forward, allowing a flatter hover attitude. The extension also provides room for another row of seats, “but then you come up with a cabin attendant situation,” Thomason says.
The additional weight will be offset somewhat by shortening the S-92’s vertical stabilizer by 41 in., and repositioning the horizontal stabilizer from the upper left side of the tail to the lower right side. Empty weight will increase slightly, but the maximum takeoff weight is expected to remain at 25,200 lb.
The fifth prototype S-92 and subsequent production aircraft will incorporate the structural changes and Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line 21 avionics suite, a recent choice.
By early June, the two aircraft involved in the S-92 flight test program at West Palm Beach, Fla. had flown more than 300 hours, and Thomason says the next milestone is Type Inspection Authorization, an in-house designation and precursor to certification that Sikorsky hopes to achieve by August 2001.
As the smaller tail improves shipboard storage, it could help the S-92’s chances in the Nordic Standard Helicopter Program, under which Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland would order as many as 90 aircraft, with a number likely to be built in Europe under an offset package.
Competitors are the larger EH101, the smaller NH90 and the older Super Puma. Canada and Portugal are other likely S-92 targets, Thomason says.
In May, Finnish operator Copter Action became the third civil S-92 customer with an order for two aircraft; other civil buyers include Canadian operators Cougar Helicopters and Helijet Airways.