Sikorsky S-76D completes first flight

The composite-rotored craft successfully completes taxi, hover, hover turns and forward flight.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, Conn.) reported that it has successfully completed the first flight of its S-76D helicopter, the latest version of the S-76 helicopter, maneuvering the prototype aircraft through taxi, hover, hover turns, and forward flight to 40 knots in a test flight that lasted approximately 30 minutes. The test was conducted in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Among the S-76D helicopter's features are all-composite, flaw-tolerant main rotor blades; an advanced Thales avionics system and autopilot; dual-speed rotor with active vibration control; Pratt & Whitney 210S engines; a quiet mode for enhanced public acceptance; and an optional Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS) for all-weather capability. The S-76D helicopter also will offer an increase in useful load and extended range performance versus the S-76C+ and S-76C++ aircraft currently fielded.

The S-76D helicopter is scheduled to enter production with certification, and customer deliveries in 2010. Sikorsky already has approximately 100 delivery position agreements on the aircraft.

The milestone culminated more than three years of design, development and testing of the first prototype aircraft. "The next generation of the S-76 helicopter begins today," said Jason Durno, program manager. "The S-76D helicopter brings Sikorsky's popular S-76 aircraft to the next level in performance. It is through the dedication of this program team that the 'D' will open the door to new applications for this aircraft model."