Powered ground tests of the Sikorsky CH-53K, the U.S. Marine Corps’ future heavy-lift helicopter, are now well under way at the company’s West Palm Beach, Florida facility in the run-up to first flight later this year. The first ground-test vehicle (GTV1) started systems testing in late April, about a week before the first flying article was rolled out on May 5. Operational service of the mostly composite helicopter, which has been dubbed the “King Stallion,” is expected in 2019.
Sikorsky Aircraft powered on its S-97 Raider prototype on May 28 at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida, marking the successful installation of the avionics system and a major step toward completing the assembly of the new light tactical rotorcraft. A contender for the U.S.
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft (Outdoor Exhibit 13) has announced that it will begin deliveries of an improved version of the A330 multi-role tanker transport in late 2017. The initial A330 MRTT Enhanced aircraft will be the first of six that were ordered by Singapore earlier this year. Subsequent production aircraft will all be of the new version.
Consumer electronics manufacturers, former toy and hobby suppliers, research university spinoffs and major aerospace companies are among the entities vying for a share of the simmering commercial market for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) generally weighing less than 20 pounds. They are advancing numerous fixed- and rotary-wing designs, some of which were displayed at the Unmanned Systems 2014 conference in May and others elsewhere. Following is a description of some, although by no means all, of the recent showings:
Multi-role functionality has been a long time coming for the Eurofighter Typhoon. But the four-nation industrial consortium building the combat jet says the Phase 1 Enhancements (P1E) package that is now entering service represents a “paradigm shift” in capability.
The commander of the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon force, Air Cmdr. Gary Waterfall, said the new package allows the RAF to drop 500-pound Paveway IV “smart” bombs “at the moment of our choosing, on targets of our choosing, with a multitude of fuse settings, impact angles and arrivals.”
Embraer is unveiling its cabin interior for the new -E2 version of its established regional-jet series, which are marketed generically as E-Jets, here at the Farnborough Airshow this week. Maintaining the same four-abreast fuselage cross section, the -E2 models are principally re-engined variants of the E175, 190 and 195 powered by Pratt & Whitney geared turbofans–the PW1700G on the E175 and the larger PW1900G on the heavier E190 and E195.
As preparations continue for running a full open-rotor engine demonstrator in 2016 under Europe’s Clean Sky research effort, French engine maker Snecma (Hall 4 Stand B12) sees the program’s participants reaching a consensus as whether or not to proceed in the 2017-to-2019 time frame. Clean Sky, which also involves Airbus, Rolls-Royce and French research center Onera, has provided a relatively unexpected discussion platform, thus facilitating a general agreement.
As Airbus A350XWB (Xtra widebody) customers freeze aircraft interior configuration plans, the European manufacturer hopes to limit cabin furnishing options for the new twin-aisle twinjet in order to keep final-assembly lines flowing as it accelerates production rates during a steep industrial ramp-up.
By the end of the year, CFM (OE 22) plans to have put together and tested around 20 Leap-1A/B/C turbofans, in preparation for their first flights next year and in 2016 on their respective application airframes. The Franco-American engine manufacturer is also gearing up for a swift production ramp-up, planned to reach an annual 1,700 engines by the end of the decade. The Leap will power the Airbus A320neo (Leap-1A), the Boeing 737 Max (Leap-1B) and Comac C919 (Leap-1C) narrowbodies.
The first Bell 525 Relentless super-medium twin helicopter is moving closer to final assembly at Bell Helicopter’s plant in Amarillo, Texas. Matt Hasik, Bell’s senior vice president of commercial programs, told AIN that the three main cabin sections will be joined within the next few weeks. He also said that the first carbon-fiber, all-composite main rotor blade for the 525 has been completed and is undergoing testing.