Sikorsky S-76D Enters Production
Final assembly of the first production Sikorsky S-76D medium twin has begun in Coatesville, Pa., the helicopter manufacturer announced this week. Czech-based Aero Vodochody delivered the helicopter’s fuselage on November 19–a one-month delay, according to a schedule released in June. The fully assembled fuselage arrived with all electric and cockpit systems having passed acceptance tests, Sikorsky said. The helicopter is due to be delivered in 2012 to the launch customer. Last month, the program entered “certification flight status.” This is the final phase of testing, with FAA sea-level certification expected by the fourth quarter of next year. Two prototypes are flying at Sikorsky’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a third helicopter is slated to join the test fleet early next year. The S-76D program has hit repeated delays–last year, certification was still planned for 2010–without the company being specific on the root causes. The S-76D features a dual-speed main rotor with a quiet mode, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshaft engines, a digital four-axis autopilot and a Thales TopDeck avionics suite.