Buoyed by steady and solid U.S. government and international work, Sikorsky is demonstrating strong hover performance in challenging economic conditions, and president Jeff Pino’s press conference yesterday morning was one of the more information-rich sessions here at Heli-Expo.
CH-53E Super Stallion
The Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter program this week achieved “ready to load” condition with the successful light-off of its first auxiliary power unit (APU). The program will be ready to begin formal integration testing early next year.
Sikorsky has begun the tooling process for the U.S. Marine Corps’ next-generation CH-53K heavylift helicopter, while General Electric is preparing to run the intended powerplant for the first time next January. Those events keep the program on track for a first flight scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. Around 90 percent of the supplier base has been selected.
Germany’s MTU Aero Engines has taken an 18 percent stake in the GE38 turboshaft engine powering the Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion heavylift helicopter, marking its first entry into a U.S. military engine program. Under the agreement, MTU, which has previously manufactured components only for U.S. military engines, will have responsibility for the power turbine module.
Clovis, Calif.-based Heavy Lift Helicopters is currently converting the first commercially owned Sikorsky CH-53D Sea Stallions for firefighting operations. Readying the first “Fire Stallions” for this year’s fire season, Heavy Lift is installing its own 2,400-gallon water tank and snorkel system in one of six 42,000-pound-mtow CH-53Ds the company purchased from the U.S. Navy in spring last year.
Sikorsky Aircraft has made its first major subsystem supplier award for the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K heavy lift helicopter development program and expects to have completed the entire selection process by the end of this year or early next.