January 08, 2014
Bristow Group has taken delivery of the first two Sikorsky S-76Ds, configured for offshore oil support, initially for services in the Gulf of Mexico.
Delivery of the first VIP-configured helicopter is imminent, with emergency medical service (EMS) and search-and-rescue (SAR) variants to follow.
The deliveries come nearly four years after the first flight and more than a year since the type was awarded its baseline FAA certification. The first two aircraft are part of an order for 26 S-76Ds announced by Bristow at the 2013 Heli-Expo show in Las Vegas, Nev., in March.
The improved S-76D is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshafts and has a Thales integrated flight-deck, four-axis autopilot, active vibration control, composite main rotor blades and an optional rotor ice protection system.
Since receiving delayed FAA certification of the baseline S-76D in October 2012, Sikorsky has been working to certify mission kits for the latest version of its popular intermediate twin helicopter. The 12-passenger offshore configuration is the first to be approved and delivered.
“There is almost as much work in certifying the kits and options and in the base aircraft,” says Carey Bond, president of commercial arm Sikorsky Global Helicopters. “We were successful out of the gate in selling into all four market segments — offshore, VIP, heavy SAR and EMS — which has meant a huge amount of certification work.”
In addition, Sikorsky has grown the capability of the S-76D beyond the baseline certification, increasing the gross weight to 11,875 lb., and expanding the hot and cold operating temperature range. “The original S-76 was not a strong performer in the Middle East because of its installed power. Now we have that in spades,” Bond says.
Early demand from multiple markets resulted in mission-kit certification tasks becoming intermixed, Bond says. “We had not anticipated EMS sales, and we thought the market would be for light SAR, not heavy.”
Certification flight-tests on the VIP configuration were completed late in 2013, the SAR variant is in flight test for delivery to Japan by mid second-quarter, and approval and delivery of the EMS configuration is planned for August 2014.