Sikorsky unveils helicopter demonstrator, new S-434 at Heli-Expo 2008

Sikorsky Aircraft unveiled its X2 Technology Demonstrator craft on Feb. 24 at Heli-Expo in Houston, Texas. It, together with its subsidiary Schweizer Aircraft Corp., also introduced a new helicopter model, the S-434.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, Conn.) unveiled its X2 Technology™ Demonstrator at the George R. Brown Convention Center at Heli-Expo 2008. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (Hartford, Conn.).

The X2 Technology Demonstrator is designed to demonstrate how a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 knots, while retaining desirable helicopter attributes, including excellent low speed handling, efficient hovering and autorotation safety, and a seamless and simple transition to high speed.

“The X2 Technology Demonstrator is an integrated suite of technologies intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter. As we continue to work to prove out and mature the technologies that will allow the X2 Technology Demonstrator to become a viable product, we are focused on testing its limits and finding out where this technology will take us,” said Jeffrey P. Pino, Sikorsky president.

“This could be a ‘game changer’ in the industry. We are diligently pursuing this as a research project. We are testing the limits and pioneering this exciting innovation,” he noted.

Among the innovative technologies the X2 Technology Demonstrator employs are fly-by-wire flight controls, counter-rotating rigid rotor blades, and hub drag reduction, among others.

Peter Grant, Sikorsky senior manager of advanced programs, noted that the X2 Technology Demonstrator has continued to make progress toward first flight. “Throughout 2007, the aircraft made excellent additional build and subsystem test progress, re-entering vehicle ground testing in November 2007. Extensive test instrumentation is also being installed as preparation for its first flight,” Grant said.

Sikorsky Aircraft first announced the initiative to develop an integrated suite of technologies called X2 Technology in June 2005. The X2 Technology Demonstrator is built as a rapid prototyping collaboration effort with Sikorsky subsidiary Schweizer Aircraft. The project is solely funded by Sikorsky Aircraft.

Sikorsky and its subsidiary Schweizer Aircraft Corp. also used Heli-Expo to announce the launch of their new S-434 helicopter. Now in development, the aircraft is the next iteration of the Schweizer model 333, incorporating many of the design and performance technologies developed on the Fire Scout VTUAV.

“The S-434 helicopter introduces a whole new level of flight performance,” said Paul Schweizer, vice president of Schweizer Aircraft. “With a four-bladed rotor system, increased power and a larger fuel tank, the S-434 helicopter will fly farther and faster while having a larger useful load than its predecessor.”

Sikorsky vice president and chief marketing officer Stephen B. Estill said the new aircraft follows in the tradition of innovation which both companies proudly uphold. “Sikorsky continues to integrate the Schweizer product line into the Sikorsky product portfolio, offering customers comprehensive solutions that bring a new level of excellence to performance,” Estill said. Position agreements for the S-434 helicopter will now be offered, Estill said.

The model 333 operates throughout the world in many demanding missions including law enforcement patrol, commercial and military flight training, power line/pipeline patrol, personal use and lift operations. Inherited advantages of the 333 design ensure that benefits such as a cockpit layout with excellent visibility from all crew positions, superior flight handling characteristics and exceptional safety and crashworthiness features are retained. These benefits, combined with the ease of maintenance and reliability that are designed into every component, make the new S-434 helicopter an exception value single-turbine helicopter.