- 22 Jun 2021
- Tony Kioussis
- Aviation Podcasts
Sikorsky is an iconic name in the helicopter market, with the manufacturer being one of the pioneers of the early industry. The company’s founder, Igor Sikorsky, introduced to the world the first practical helicopter, and the company has been a major developer of helicopters ever since.
The Sikorsky S-76 series is featured in Aircraft Bluebook’s summer 2021 data up to production-year 2016. A 2016 model S-76D shows an average retail price of $10m. Older models cost less, with the 2010-model S-76C++ retailing for $5.3m, the 1997-model S-76B costing $1.0m, and an original 1979-model S-76 costing $300k. Individual models can sell above or below the average retail price for their production year, depending how well maintained they are, time on the airframe and engines, and any upgrades that may have been made.
In April 2021, JETNET reported there were 875 Sikorsky helicopters flying worldwide. The Sikorsky S-92A has the largest in-operation fleet, with 292 units. At the time of writing, there had been 286 Sikorsky helicopter retirements from a total 1,217 units built (56 units were in various stages of production at the manufacturer).
Of Sikorsky’s more recent helicopters, maximum ranges span between 288 nautical miles for the S-76B up to 439nm for the S-92, according to Conklin & de Decker.
Sikorsky currently produces turbine helicopters for the medium twin-engine and heavy twin-engine markets. Airbus, Bell, Leonardo and MD Helicopters also produce medium multi-engine turbine models to compete for market share, while older models from AgustaWestland and Eurocopter are available. And, Airbus, Bell and Leonardo produce models in the heavy twin-engine turbine market, with older models available from other manufacturers.
Sikorsky Turbine Helicopters Overview
By Gerrard Cowan
Today, Sikorsky is part of the Lockheed Martin Corporation and has had a significant impact on the VIP, Search and Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, and commercial helicopter markets, notably through its well-known S-76 and S-92 brands, but also through its S-70 helicopter.
Sikorsky S-76 Platforms
The Sikorsky S-76 twin-turbine helicopter was developed in the 1970s, adopting elements of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in its rotor blades, flight control and a number of other systems.
The aircraft marked Sikorsky’s first purely commercial helicopter design, rather than a platform adapted from the defense domain. It proved a market success, with almost 900 platforms delivered worldwide since 1977, according to Sikorsky. A significant percentage services the offshore oil market and about one-fifth are active in the VIP/corporate market.
The S-76 is a medium-sized helicopter. It is capable of holding up to 12 passengers in its airline/offshore configuration, and 6-8 passengers in its VIP/corporate configuration. The first of this model helicopter to be produced, the Sikorsky S-76A, was powered by two Allision 250-C30 engines.
The S-76A helicopter was subsequently modified across different iterations, including the Sikorsky S-76A+ and S-76A++, which added Turbomeca Arriel 1S and Arriel 1S1 engines, respectively. In all, nearly 300 S-76A platforms were produced according to Sikorsky.
The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter appeared in the late 1980s, offering a range of enhancements, including the addition of more powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6B-36 engines and an increased gross weight. According to JETNET, 93 units of this type were manufactured.
Next came the Sikorsky S-76C, which featured Turbomeca Arriel 1S1 turboshaft engines with much improved fuel efficiency, combined with the higher gross weight introduced on the S-76B model. This aircraft has been upgraded and enhanced twice, in the shape of the Sikorsky S-76C+ and the S-76C++ platforms. The S-76C+ helicopter introduced FADEC-controlled Arriel 2S1 engines. Early on in the S-76C+ deliveries the cockpit was standardized with a non-integrated glass cockpit.
The S-76C++, meanwhile, offers improved Arriel 2S2 engines, a digital engine control unit (DECU), and more. Operators benefit from an improved performance, with up to 500lbs of additional payload when performing Cat A take-offs; additional mission readiness; lower direct operating costs; and improved pilot workload, along with a range of other advantages. Existing Sikorsky S-76C+ platforms can be upgraded to the S-76C++ platform standard.
Today the S-76 helicopter line is represented by the Sikorsky S-76D platform, which boasts a wide range of modern advances and enhancements, including a Honeywell Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), next-generation Thales TopDeck avionics and autopilot, and Pratt & Whitney PW210S engines.
As a result of these technologies, the S-76D helicopter brings a wide range of advantages, including outstanding OEI performance even on the hottest days. Sikorsky says it is the quietest medium twin helicopter both internally and externally, providing the latest in refined technology that makes a real difference on most missions.
Sikorsky S-92 Platforms
Sikorsky’s other major commercial helicopter brand is the S-92 helicopter, a twin-engine heavy-lift platform that has been manufactured since civil certification was obtained in 2004.
The Sikorsky S-92 currently services Heads of State, VIPs, Search and Rescue, and offshore operators around the world. Its technical design stems from the UH-60 Black Hawk platform and it can carry up to 19 passengers.
The aircraft features two GE CT7-8A engines, flaw tolerance, active vibration system, blade de-ice, and can be fitted with a full bathroom if required.
Today, operators can upgrade their S-92 platforms to the Sikorsky S-92A+ configuration, which provides a new main transmission that incorporates an independent auxiliary lubrication system, permitting the aircraft to fly safely and without having to land immediately should the primary lubrication system fail.
Also, with the S-92A+ configuration, the gross weight is increased by 1,200 pounds, for a new gross weight of 27,700 pounds. The aircraft is also fitted with 19 lighter-weight passenger seats. Sikorsky expects that civil certification from the FAA, EASA, UK CAA and Transport Canada will be available in 2023.
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Read the latest Sikorsky Turbine Helicopter Comparisons by Mike Chase