Sikorsky has new plans for its S-92 helicopter line that will redesignate 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.
These changes will introduce new technology that is focused on reliability and operating cost reduction, while at the same time delivering increased capability. Changes will increase commonality of the aircraft between the offshore, SAR and utility configurations and allow for speedier reconfiguration between roles, making it an even better choice for operators that want a diverse aircraft capable of multiple missions. Sikorsky expects to launch an hourly aftermarket support programme, reflecting a targeted economic improvement of the S-92A+ and S-92B, that will be available concurrent with deliveries.
Its 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 a new technology from Sikorsky's Innovations lab called SuperSearch, that uses advanced algorithms to locate objects up to 30 per cent faster. Both aircraft will include SAR AFCS and a newly designed interior that is lighter.
Notably, both configurations will include the phase IV main gearbox. This 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 nm of flight at an airspeed of 80 kts. 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, will be available as an option for both the S-92A+ and S-92B products.
Sikorsky has significantly invested to bring these capabilities into production, but will let market interest determine the pace of remaining internal research and development spending. Current plans have initial availability set for 2022 and have an S-92B helicopter price target below historical S-92 prices. The S-92A+ kit is being designed to allow common fleet benefit at an economical targeted price.
“Our S-92 aircraft has set the standard for modern helicopters and we're excited with these changes that will ensure it remains so,” says vice president, commercial systems and services, Audrey Brady. “With these updates and an unmatched cabin size and capacity, our customers will see an economic benefit demonstrating that the S-92 is the best choice in helicopter missions near or far.”
Since 2004, Sikorsky has delivered more than 300 production S-92 helicopters. In 2018, the fleet flew 175,000 hours, a record for the fleet, contributing to a total of nearly 1.5 million hours flown.