Sikorsky on Tuesday announced new plans for its S-92 helicopter line that will re-designate fielded helicopters as the S-92A+ after modification, and newly produced aircraft as the S-92B. The two variants will share a nearly identical configuration, with S-92B helicopters also featuring enlarged cabin windows and plans for a common cabin door suitable for offshore and SAR configurations. The announcement came at the 2019 Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo show.
These changes to the S-92 helicopter will introduce new technology that is focused on reliability and operating cost reduction, while at the same time delivering increased capability, the Company said in a release. Changes will increase commonality of the aircraft between the offshore, SAR, and utility configurations and allow for speedier reconfiguration between roles. Sikorsky expects to launch an hourly aftermarket support program, reflecting a targeted economic improvement of the S-92A+ and S-92B, that will be available concurrent with deliveries.
Sikorsky’s S-92 helicopter fleet update will include the introduction of phase one MATRIX technology that will bring advanced computing power to the platform. This foundation enables adoption of autonomous landing technology such as Rig Approach 2.0 and new technology from Sikorsky's Innovations lab called SuperSearch that uses advanced algorithms to locate objects up to 30 percent faster. Both aircraft will include SAR AFCS and a newly designed interior that is lighter and common to both SAR and OSO missions.
Notably, both configurations will include the Phase-IV main gearbox. This gearbox has been validated to exceed the requirements of CFR 29.927(c) as demonstrated by full-scale testing witnessed by the FAA. All of the primary lubrication system oil was removed prior to operating the gearbox for the equivalent of over 500 nautical miles of flight at an airspeed of 80 knots. No discernable anomalies were identified during the post-test examination.
General Electric's CT7-8A6 engine, capable of producing more power in higher altitudes and hotter temperatures, also will be available as an option for both the S-92A+ and S-92B products.
Current plans have initial availability set for 2022 and have an S-92B helicopter price target below historical S-92 prices, the Company stated.
Since 2004, Sikorsky has delivered more than 300 production S-92 helicopters. The industry standard for safety and reliability, the S-92 helicopter is the preferred aircraft of its size class for offshore oil worker transportation. In 2018, the fleet flew 175,000 hours, a record for the fleet, contributing to a total of nearly 1.5 million hours flown.