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. Is a Helicopter Charter Right for You?

    October 25, 2010 by admin


    As President of Connecticut Air Charter, I see many requests for helicopter charter quotes. As you may suspect, chartering a private helicopter is not the cheapest form of transportation.  More times than not, chartering an airplane for the mission at hand is less expensive and more practical.


    I’ll go over the numbers, but let me give you a simple rule that usually applies.  ”Unless you are flying directly into a NYC heliport, chartering a private plane is a better bet.”  The primary NYC heliports are located on East 34th street, West 30th, and downtown Manhattan.  You can’t land a chartered airplane at those locations, so naturally a helicopter is your only option.  But flying to and from anywhere else in the tri state area, your least expensive and most practical option is usually a chartered airplane.


    I arrange helicopter charters and airplane charters.  I have no bias toward either, it’s all about cost and time en route. Let me give you a real world example.


    I spoke with a gentleman recently who asked me to arrange a helicopter charter for him to LaGuardia Airport from New Haven, CT.  He was traveling alone.  There are no helicopter charter operators based in CT, so a helicopter would have to travel from White Plains or NYC to pick him up.  When chartering a private airplane or helicopter, you pay for the “dead leg” portion; the repositioning of the aircraft.


    At $600 per hour for the smallest charter helicopter available in the tri-state area, the total trip cost would be close to $1,000.  Flight time from New haven to LaGuardia is only 30 minutes, but you also pay for the 30 minutes it takes to bring the helicopter to New Haven, plus the return of the helicopter to it’s home airport in New York.  The flight would be on a very comfortable Robinson R-44 that seats four.


    Robinson R44


    The Robinson R44 is comfortable for three people or so but is still considered a light helicopter.  Helicopter charter prices rise dramatically above this level.


    Instead of the scenario above, I suggested a charter airplane based in New Haven.  At $270 per hour, the 30 minute trip to LaGuardia, and 30 minute return trip for the airplane, would yield a total trip cost closer to $600.


    As I mentioned above, I do arrange many helicopter charters.  If you need to get to a NYC heliport from CT or Long Island, the only way to get there is by helicopter, at a cost of approximately $1,000.  And you can’t beat the view along the way.


    To get accurate and unbiased quotes on any type of private air charter, you should always consult with an expert at Connecticut Air Charter.