The Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator last month unofficially set a new speed record for rotorcraft, as it reached 250 ktas at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The aircraft, which features contra-rotating coaxial main rotors and a pusher propeller, took off at 7 a.m. for its 17th flight, which lasted 1.1 hours. At the controls was chief test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck.
Some aircraft fulfill their missions so well that they seem to last almost forever. The Sikorsky S-61/H-3 Sea King helicopter, the prototype of which made its first flight way back in 1959, appears on its way to achieving this “never die” status.
Sikorsky Aircraft announced the X2 project just over five years ago at the 2005 Paris Air Show. Now the one and only example of what the helicopter maker calls a “technology demonstrator” is poised to break the record as the world’s fastest rotorcraft as it works its way toward a target speed of 250 knots and further proof of concept.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services (SAS), an aftermarket division of Sikorsky Aircraft, has acquired Woodland, Wash.-based LifePort, a major accessories manufacturer specializing in air medical systems, interior furnishings and lightweight armor for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. The acquisition further strengthens SAS’s accessories business segment.
The Sikorsky S-70i military helicopter–a new export variant of the UH-60M Black Hawk–made its first flight on July 1 from the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Sikorsky Aircraft’s X2 technology demonstrator achieved a forward speed of 181 knots on a test flight today at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The contra-rotating coaxial rotor prototype is designed to demonstrate that a helicopter can cruise at up to 250 knots while retaining excellent low-speed handling and efficient hovering characteristics, as well as a seamless and simple transition to high speed.
A Sikorsky panel yesterday painted a positive picture of the company’s Sikorsky Global Helicopters division, basking in the warmth of 136 large and 79 light helicopter sales in 2008-2009, and a year that ended with a backlog valued at $12 billion.
Cutting-edge research takes an enormous amount of time and while the BA609 tiltrotor still shows signs of life, it may end up a solely AgustaWestland project. Sikorsky’s X2 compound helicopter hasn’t broken any speed records, yet, but it remains a fascinating program.
Speaking yesterday at Heli-Expo 2010, Sikorsky president Jeffrey Pino found looking in the rear-view mirror a fair indicator of what’s to come, and as he put it, “It’s very good.
“We had a great year in 2009,” he said, pointing out $1.1 billion in sales from the Sikorsky Global Helicopters division, another $2 billion from Aerospace Services and a healthy $3.2 billion from Military Systems.
Sikorsky Aircraft plans to invest $1 billion over the next 10 years in research and development to redefine the future of vertical flight, the Stratford, Conn.-based helicopter manufacturer announced earlier this month.