Flight shows there’s still life in the old S-61

In a sign that there’s still plenty of life in the old girl yet, Sikorsky has completed the first test flight of a modernised ‘T’ variant of the S-61 helicopter – the 52-year-old commercial version of the Sea King.

The company says the aircraft – converted decommissioned legacy S-61s – have undergone a full structural refurbishment, an overhaul of all major dynamic components, and the installation of key upgrades including new composite main rotor blades, a survivability suite and state-of-the-art glass cockpit, as well as all new electrical wiring throughout the aircraft.

The changes come with improved safety and 15 percent greater performance with a lower operating cost.

“Sikorsky’s S-61 helicopter has a 50-year legacy of reliably performing missions for the US and foreign allied militaries,” John Johnson, Sikorsky’s Director of Commercial Customer Support and S-61 Programs, said last year. “With its rugged endurance, spaciousness, and lift capabilities, the modernised S-61 aircraft can be outfitted to meet a wide variety of requirements. It provides superior value for a mid-size multi-mission helicopter.”

Sikorsky has a five-year IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) agreement with the US Department of State (DoS) allowing for the purchase of up to 110 upgraded S-61 helicopters.

Locally, Airflite announced last June that it had been appointed as the S-61 Helicopter Sales Representative in Australia and New Zealand.


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