Sikorsky's Superhawk

Manufacturer looks at Canada for H-92 launch order
Ken Pole
July 18, 2007
By Ken Pole
125-sikorSikorsky Aircraft Corporation can be expected to emulate the crews of one of its most high-profile products, the combat-tested UH-60 Black Hawk, striking hard and fast in the corporate dogfight to provide Canada with 28 new shipborne helicopters.

An August visit to Sikorsky's sprawling headquarters in Connecticut left a strong impression that the subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation – which also includes Pratt & Whitney – is approaching the Maritime Helicopter Project (MHP) with supreme confidence in the H-92 that it will pit against the European NH90 and the Anglo-Italian EH101.

Confidence and vision are hardly new concepts to Sikorsky, as a visit to founder Igor Sikorsky's office showed. Frozen in time since his death in 1972 at the age of 83, it is a shrine of memorabilia and other evidence of the Kiev-born engineer-pilot's determination and commitment to rotary flight. His first attempt was a rubberband powered model he built at the age of 12, inspired by the drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci!

While the company, founded in 1923 as the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation, continues to pay homage to its roots and his legacy, which includes dominance of the global military helicopter market, it has its sights fixed on the future.

In a sense, Sikorsky has come full circle with the H-92. It is the latest evolution of the Hawk platform, which was a military airframe from the outset. Sikorsky developed the S-92 and had it certified as a civil aircraft before moving to market the H-92 military variant.

"All the crashworthiness designs, the military-spec compliance requirements of the H- 60 went into the S-92," said Dave Powell, regional executive for North America. This includes unprecedented compliance with the latest regulatory requirements for flaw tolerance. "Seeing is believing when you see deliberate defects in components, a 5/1000ths scratch or 40/1000ths gouge, yet we still have complete integrity of the flight dynamic through a full cycle of inspection. That's second to none."

Powell said this "safety by design" policy dates to the Black Hawk, which essentially replaced the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, better known as the Huey. "We wanted to have a walk-away-from machine in a combat environment." It was then only logical, given the "very strong interest" of the US Marine Corps’ presidential helicopter unit and the US Air Force and other potential military customers, to try to tap that market…

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