Capping more than three years of design, development and experimentation, Sikorsky just successfully conducted the first test flight of its new S-76D helicopter in Florida. The prototype chopper successfully maneuvered through taxi, hover, hover turns, and forward flight to 40 knots. The sleek S-76D, which is scheduled to enter production this year with certification and customer deliveries in 2010, features all-composite, flaw-tolerant main rotor blades; an advanced Thales avionics system and autopilot; dual speed rotor with active vibration control; powerful Pratt & Whitney 210S engines; and an optional Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS) for all-weather flying.
The S-76D also offers an increase in useful load and extended range performance versus Sikorsky’s currently fielded S-76C model. In addition, a quiet engine mode minimizes disturbance while flying over residential areas. Inside, the atmosphere is comparable to a luxurious private jet with satellite phones, entertainment systems, flight progress displays and refreshment cabinets featuring custom woodwork, along with a full suite of optional equipment designed to enhance crew and passenger safety and comfort. Several advance orders have already been placed.