1. New Sikorsky S-76D Headed to Market

    October 13, 2011 by admin

    Sikorsky is displaying its third development S-76D at Heli-Expo in Orlando, using the still-unflown aircraft to demonstrate the upgraded helicopter’s new Thales-developed integrated flight-deck.

    Announced at Heli-Expo in 2005, the S-76D is moving out of its protracted development phase and into certification flight-test and low-rate production. Initial certification is expected by year-end, with deliveries to begin in the first quarter of 2012—a four-year delay.

    Photos: Sikorsky

    The D model is a major upgrade to the S-76, more than 800 of which have been delivered since it first flew in 1977. With more-powerful engines, improved rotor and integrated avionics, the S-76D is designed to combine the single-engine performance of the corporate-preferred S-76B with the cruise fuel-efficiency of the offshore-favored S-76C.

    “We get the power of the B with the efficiency of the C family, which is attractive from an operating cost perspective,” says Tim Fox, S-76 senior program manager. Increased power and rotor lift improve hot-and-high performance, dual-speed rotors reduce noise and a rotor ice protection system allows the D to operate in more challenging environments.

    “We have power, performance, best-in-class fuel burn, and the D is extremely quiet for its size,” he says. Priced about the same as a similarly equipped C++, the D can lift 1,000lb more and fly 400nm versus 375. These improvements will allow Sikorsky to offer a single model across markets that previously were segmented, Fox says.

    “The D gives us openings into new markets and areas of the world, hotter environments where the C could not operate and the B had the power, but not the specific fuel consumption,” says David Franc, S-76 marketing manager. Improved high-altitude performance opens up VIP and EMS markets such as Denver and Mexico City, while “we can go further offshore with greater launch reliability”.

    Photos: Sikorsky

    Powered by a pair of digitally controlled, 1,050-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshafts, the D model introduces flaw-tolerant all-composite blades, a Thales TopDeck cockpit with large-format displays and four-axis autopilot, and optional electrically deiced rotors that allow flight into known icing. Active vibration control and health and usage monitoring systems are standard.

    After the delays, caused by unexpected and unspecified discoveries during development, the S-76D is on track to meet its performance targets. “Shake-down tests identified weaknesses, which we have fixed,” says Fox, adding “the helicopter is quieter than predicted, rotor lift is slightly greater than predicted and fuel efficiency is on plan.”

    Two prototypes, D1 and D2, have logged more than 300hr since the first flight in February 2009, with certification testing getting under way in November 2010. The third aircraft, D3, will join the 750hr. flight-test program later this year, tasked with avionics certification. D1 is moving into powerplant certification from system development, and D2 into performance testing from avionics and autopilot development.

    S-76 airframes are manufactured in the Czech Republic by Aero Vodochody and in China by Changhe Aircraft Industries. Aero delivered the first production S-76D airframe to Sikorsky’s final-assembly plant in Coatesvillle, Pa., in December and, with the last S-76C++ to be delivered this December, Changhe is expected to transition to the new model late this year. “We envision dual-sourcing on the D, but this is to be worked out,” says Fox.

  2. Business Jet Industry May Emerge Stronger Than Ever

    by admin

    By Molly McMillin


    Last month’s wild swings in the stock market and the overall economic uncertainty is a short-term blip to the business jet industry and not a precursor to another industry free fall, aviation analysts say.

    The stock market recently whipsawed as it responded to the political debate about the nation’s debt and the country’s credit downgrade. The Dow Jones industrial average had four 400-point swings in a row for the first time in its 115-year history. That volatility may result in a short period of slower sales for some business jet manufacturers, said Brian Foley, aviation consultant with Brian Foley Associates. But it also could lead to stronger demand down the road, he said.

    “That means when the true recovery does take hold, it will have much more momentum,” Foley said. “There’s just so much pent-up demand out there from aircraft sales to maintenance services that people have been putting off.”

    Manufacturers and their order books are stronger today than they were three years ago when the market plunged during the recession and buyers canceled droves of orders.

    Their order books are of a higher caliber than they were before the downturn, Foley said. “Gone are the speculators and those that qualified for aircraft financing simply because they were breathing.”

  3. Bio-Jet Fuel Takes to the Skies

    by admin

    Embraer and GE held a series of test flights this week, with an EMBRAER 170 jet flying from the Company’s Gavião Peixoto facilities. The purpose of the tests was to benchmark the operational characteristics of the airplane and its GE CF34-8E engines when powered by HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids) fuel under a broad range of unique flight conditions. The flights involved powering one of the two GE engines with the maximum ASTM permissible mix of 50% HEFA (derived from camelina) with Jet-A.

    Following the recent approval of biomass-based HEFA fuels by ASTM, Embraer and GE have stepped up their efforts with the objective of supporting the development of a broader range of sustainable biofuels for aviation. With these tests, both companies confirmed that technical plans and procedures for future fuels testing are robust, enabling value-added and timely testing of additional fuels.

    “We have a strong and longstanding commitment to developing efficient and environmentally responsible products. This series of tests, and their very positive results, gives us a lot of new information to continue our sustainability program as it relates to future products,” said Mauro Kern, Embraer Executive Vice President of Engineering and Technology. “Supporting the development and deployment of sustainable aviation biofuels is one of the industry’s top priorities, and we are firmly engaged in that effort.”

  4. Stability in Global Business Jet Market Despite Uncertainties

    by admin


    Business aircraft sales, acquisitions, trading and brokerage services provider, Jetcraft Corporation – headquartered in Raleigh, NC – have commented this week on the state of the international business jet market.

    “Fundamentally, Jetcraft’s market outlook remains unchanged – despite recent financial uncertainties in Europe and the US,” says Chad Anderson, President, Jetcraft Corporation. “Specifically, we are seeing two trends that we believe are representative of the international business jet market at this time.

    First, prices at the top of the market – new long range to large business jets – have stabilized significantly. This good news for sellers has largely been driven by strong demand from emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America. In parallel, we continue to see demand recovery in North America, from both public companies and high-net-worth individuals. Second, there remains a healthy supply of ‘legacy’ business jets models on the market – approximately 15% of the total of these fleets worldwide are currently for sale – which creates attractive opportunities for buyers. It is worth noting that ‘legacy’ aircraft such as the Bombardier Challenger 604, the Gulfstream GIV or the Dassault Falcon 900B may offer exceptional value,” adds Mr. Anderson.

    “We believe that confidence in the business jet market is holding because the volume of transactions has remained quite stable,” continues Jahid Fazal-Karim, Co-Owner and Board Member, Jetcraft Corporation. “Business jet purchasers are generally acquiring aircraft based on anticipated lift requirements six to 18 months from today. This trend illustrates continued confidence as globalization of business continues, the need for long range business jets – particularly in emerging markets – is here to stay. Furthermore, access to credit and financing has not been noticeably impacted by recent macroeconomic events. Jetcraft is guardedly optimistic and we continue to monitor risk. On balance, we expect our sales results to remain very favorable through year end,” concludes Mr. Fazal-Karim.

  5. Gulfstream Geta a New President

    by admin

    By Curt Epstein


    Gulfstream parent company General Dynamics announced last month that Larry Flynn will succeed Joe Lombardo as president of the Savannah-based airframer, starting September 1.

    Lombardo served not only as president of the jet maker since 2007 but also as executive vice president of General Dynamics’s aerospace group, and he will retain the latter title. “This will enable Mr. Lombardo to spend additional time ensuring that both Jet Aviation and Gulfstream Aerospace are focused on meeting their customers’ requirements,” a General Dynamics spokesman told AIN, noting that Lombardo, 63, would assume a supervisory role in both companies. The move also aligns the executive structure of the aerospace group to match that of General Dynamics’s other business groups, the spokesman said.

    After the similarly unexpected announcement in June of the resignation of Jet Aviation president Peter Edwards, who had led the international aviation services provider since 2007, Lombardo assumed temporary leadership of the company until former Gulfstream CFO and senior vice president Daniel Clare assumed its presidency in July.

    During General Dynamics’ second-quarter earnings call at the end of July, chairman and CEO Jay Johnson noted problems within Jet Aviation that affected the quarterly earnings for the company’s aerospace division. He specifically cited slowdowns in production output from Jet Aviation’s completions division and said that the company has taken “specific steps to reshape that business.”

    Before this appointment, Flynn, 59, was Gulfstream’s senior vice president of marketing and sales, a role he held since 2008. Before that he had a successful seven-year stint as president of Gulfstream product support. He joined the company in 1995 as vice president of aircraft services, bringing more than 25 years of aircraft service facility experience to the business jet manufacturer.