Posts Tagged sikorsky

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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China flies new ‘Z-20’ military helicopter

I spy: An enlarged portion of the original Z-20 image posted on

China has flown a new medium-lift utility helicopter, unofficially desgnated the Z-20, with Western analysts calling it a Black Hawk knockoff and Chinese commentators heralding it as another step in China’s march to military superiority.

The aircraft came to light when an image was posted on the Chinese military forum on December 23. The Chinese Government subsequently confirmed its existence on the official CCTV news channel.

The Z-20 has a takeoff weight of 10 tonnes and can operate at high altitudes. It is believed to feature advanced noise-reduction technology and be able to operate from China’s new Liaoning aircraft carrier.

“The Z-20 is supposed to fill a long-time void in the helicopter fleet of the People’s Liberation Army. Hopefully, it will fulfill the requirements of the PLA’s ground force and navy,” Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief at Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the People’s Daily newspaper last week.

“Though we now have the advanced WZ-10 and WZ-19 attack helicopters in the army, the absence of a suitable, Chinese-made utility helicopter hampers the army’s ability to transport strike forces and carry out support missions.”

The helicopter’s close resemblance to the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter has caused some commentators to dub it the ‘Copy Hawk’ and even surmise that it’s based on Chinese examination of the Black Hawk that crashed during the US Navy SEAL operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

But the Chinese don’t agree. Chen Hong, a researcher at the PLA Air Force Command Institute in Beijing, told Beijing News that “although the aircraft’s appearance bears some resemblances to the US’ Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Z-20 is merely a knockoff of its US counterpart”.

For a start, he said, the Z-20 has a larger cabin and different landing gear and tail. More importantly, it also has a five-blade rotor compared with the UH-60’s four blades.

“The addition of a blade will enable the Z-20 to outperform the UH-60 when it comes to lift force, ferry range and payload capacity,” Chen said.

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Human-powered helicopter flies into history

A Canadian team has finally won a US$250,000 prize offered in 1980 for the first human-powered helicopter flight.

AeroVelo, a team comprised mainly of students from the University of Toronto, won the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition after flying for longer than 60 seconds above 3m in height and remaining within a 10m x 10m area on June 13.

Sikorsky says more than 20 human-powered helicopters have been designed and built since the competition began, though only a handful have gotten off the ground.

As you can see in the video above, AeroVelo’s Atlas vehicle is huge – in fact, the largest human-powered helicopter to have flown.

Each of its four rotors measures about 21m. The airframe is constructed of very light carbon tube and polymer weighing only 52kg, with a highly modified bicycle frame pedalled by the pilot – in this case, 31-year-old chief engineer Dr Todd Reichert. Cameron Robertson was co-chief engineer.

“When Sikorsky increased the prize to a quarter-million dollars (from US$10,00) in May 2009, many people were skeptical and felt the challenge was impossible,” said Sikorsky Research and Engineering Vice-President Mark Miller. “And that is exactly why we raised the stakes – to encourage creative thinkers to prove that what is considered impossible is often proven to be possible. That has been the philosophy of Sikorsky Aircraft since the founding of our company by aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky 90 years ago. Congratulations to the AeroVelo team!”

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First of Navy Seahawk Romeos completes test flight

The first of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters destined for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has successfully completed its first test flight, six months ahead of schedule.

Minister for Defence Materiel Dr Mike Kelly said this week that the helicopter passed a range of tests including controllability, engine performance, vibration analysis and navigation as well as the ‘Contractor Flight Acceptance’ phase during the flight at Sikorsky’s production facility in Connecticut, US, on June 26.

“The Federal Government has invested over $3 billion in acquiring 24 MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters, representing a sizeable commitment toward Australia’s ongoing air combat capability,” Dr Kelly said. “The MH-60R Seahawk Romeo will replace the 16 Seahawk ‘Classic’ helicopters and will introduce an air-to-surface strike capability.

“The US Navy and its industry partners have worked hard to accelerate the Romeo acquisition program and this first flight occurred only two years after contract signature, some six months ahead of the original schedule approved by Government in 2011.”

With the first two due for delivery this December, the 24 Seahawk Romeos will allow the RAN to provide at least eight helicopters embarked at any one time with Australia’s Anzac Class frigates and the new Hobart Class air warfare destroyers, with the remainder based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, NSW.


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