Offshore oil and gas helicopter service provider Bristow has secured new contracts for 20 large aircraft that it expects will generate more than $2 billion in revenue. The deals are a combination of new contracts and extensions of current ones in Australia, Brazil and Europe for Sikorsky S-92s and Eurocopter EC225s.
In another safety issue affecting the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter’s main gearbox, on July 18 the FAA released an airworthiness directive (AD) that calls for inspection for cracks. The AD was prompted by the discovery of a crack in the gearbox housing of one S-92, “in the cored passage area adjacent to the scissor bracket mount,” allowing oil to leak. The result could be a loss of oil and subsequent failure of the gearbox, the FAA said.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has approved the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter for sea state 6 conditions, completing the S-92A emergency flotation system sea-state expansion for additional mission capability. The European Aviation Safety Agency has also certified the system and approval by Transport Canada is expected soon.
Eurocopter and helicopter support specialist Heli-One Norway have created Team Nordsar to bid in Norway’s competition for an all-weather search-and-rescue helicopter. The Nordsar version of the EC225 medium twin is touted as being well suited for missions in mountainous and coastal areas, as well as long-range operations in the Barents Sea. Eurocopter already has helicopters flying in SAR roles in the country.
The FAA has approved the Sikorsky S-92 for sea state 6 (SS6) conditions, meaning up to 20-foot waves. Thanks to additional sponson floats, the S-92’s emergency flotation system becomes the first one to be FAA certified for SS6, according to Sikorsky.
“This system was designed by the S-92 landing-gear design group, with close coordination with electrical and airframe design and structural analysis,” said Ben Del Monte, chief of propulsion/landing gear/mission systems.
The AgustaWestland AW169 medium-twin helicopter made its first flight on Thursday at the company’s Cascina Costa plant in northern Italy. According to the company, the eight- to 10-passenger, 9,000-pound helicopter performed “as expected” during the flight to check out general handling and basic systems.
Strong deliveries of the S-92 medium twin will boost civil activity at Sikorsky this year, according to recently released 2011 results and 2012 outlook. President Jeff Pino is expecting S-92 handovers to leap by 42 percent and overall civil deliveries by approximately 30 percent.
This year’s plans call for delivery of approximately 260 civil and military rotorcraft, with civil revenue expected to exceed $1.1 billion. Operating profits are predicted to be in the $50 million to $75 million range, down from $820 million last year.
Sikorsky president Jeff Pino presented his company’s 2011 results and 2012 outlook last week, and the outlook suggests that strong deliveries of the S-92 medium twin will boost civil activity this year. Pino is expecting S-92 handovers to leap by 42 percent and overall civil activity by approximately 30 percent, while overall total sales (military and civil) will fall by 5 percent.
The FAA is moving to redefine what “extremely remote” means when it comes to Part 29 certification provisions regarding loss of helicopter gearbox lubrication. The S-92 originally gained certification after Sikorsky convinced the FAA that complete loss of lubrication was extremely remote. Failure of the main rotor gearbox lubrication system is blamed for the fatal ditching of a Cougar Helicopters S-92A off Newfoundland in March 2009.
The U.S. Navy’s latest attempt to replace the aging Presidential helicopter fleet has been delayed. The Pentagon rejected an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for the VXX program because no “cost-effective” solution was identified, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).