Repair work was being performed on the approach end of the runway, so we had to take over manually to land. But with VHLD engaged and the trim switch pushed in, altitude above the runway and a spot on the runway can be programmed in to take the aircraft to that altitude, fly down the runway to the designated spot and come to a hover, still hands-off. The aircraft also automatically decelerates. Once below 130 kt., the gear can be dropped and the aircraft set on the ground.
The flight lasted 1 hr. 10 min., with a fuel burn of 650 lb. Sikorsky lists a fuel burn of 578 lb. per hour in its charts, so our 557 lb./hr. was very close.
As for transitioning into the D model from an earlier S-76, Barnes says a new pilot could be using the aircraft “within a few hours” and that, after one or two flights, “they are doing things on their own.” I can see why . . . it is just a matter of learning which buttons to push.
To find out more about Sikorsky's S-76 family and see video of the latest -D model in flight, tap here in the digital edition of AW&ST, or go to AviationWeek.com/video