One of the GOM majors has an aircraft options contract written in such a way that it is able to switch-over from the C++ to the D at its discretion, though the delays to the D program mean that the number of aircraft involved would be limited.
1) The S-76D program is still on track for certification during the 1Q of 2009.
2) The program has stepped up to the plate to bring the cert basis up to be at least 92% compliant to the latest FAR/JAR amendments (currently working to make this value even higher).
(1) Someone missed the boat by several quarters. As for 2010...
(2) Why not 100%? With new engines, FADEC, rotor, autopilot, cockpit displays, icing, etc., one might think full compliance with the latest amendment would be in order. "Stepping up" to 92% rather sounds like a hollow boast.
The S-92 is heavier than the EC225 because of the additional "beef" built into components to satisfy 100% FAR JAR 29. Likewise, the AW139 is a bigger and heavier aircrfat than the S-76, same reason, 100% compliance means some areas have to be beefier. Ditto the EC175.
The S-76D cannot be fully compliant withot a complete re design so it will be mostly but not 100% compliant versus the 139, like the EC225 versus the S-92.
Its not possible to take a 1960s (Puma) or 1970s (S-76) evolutionary design andmake it 100% compliant. From good sources, the offshore version of the S-76D will be around 96% compliant.
Evidently it's not possible to take a 2000's (S-92) evolutionary design and make it 100% compliant either.
Whilst on the subject of thread drift, I thought FAA and FAR Part 29 Transport Rotorcraft, Amendment 47 were the latest certification standards, to which the S-92 is certified by both authorities, or have I missed a press release?
It's only necessary to meet the requirements of the amendment level of Part 29 when the helicopter was initially certified (I believe it's amendment level 16 for the original S-76). The authorities can ask for higher levels of compliance and this will be subject to negotiations with the FAA / TC / CAA / EASA.
Sikorsky S-76D Program Delayed Again First deliveries of the Sikorsky S-76D medium twin–an upgraded derivative of the S-76C++–are now pegged for 2012 following FAA certification, expected in the fourth quarter of next year. This revised schedule means the program has been delayed by at least six months. The U.S. helicopter manufacturer is giving little explanation, citing only “an unexpected event” that prompted suspension of flight tests in April. The issue was solved “quickly” with engine maker Pratt & Whitney Canada and flight testing has since resumed. The two prototypes in the flight-test program have now accumulated 95 flights and 171 hours. A third aircraft will join the test fleet early next year, although Sikorsky had said in February that this addition was planned “soon.” One year ago deliveries were still slated for 2010 before being postponed to 2011 in February. Sikorsky is counting more than 70 “deposited customers,” down from the 100 “delivery position agreements” that were touted last year. The launch customer for the S-76D is VIP charter operator Falcon Aviation Service in the UAE.
I keep hearing rumors that Shell no longer accepts bid tenders with S76 a/c.
You will note the S-76C being phased out this year in Nigeria (by EC155s then AW139s) and shortly after a similar scenarion in the GOM (by AW139s).
This follows a study done by senior Shell Aircraft staff between Dec 2003 and Mar 2005. This concluded that 'a significant number of S-76 variants have been lost in accidents' but that 'while there is no significant single shortfall that warrent cessation of operations', Shell Group would not achieve its safety targets with the continued use of the S-76.
Approval for the A was withdrawn then.
The A+ was to be limited to low utilisation contracts only (600 hours pa or less) after 1 Apr 2008 and withdrawn by 1 Apr 2011.
The C+/++ was to be limited to low utilisation contracts only after 1 Apr 2011 and withdrawn by 1 Apr 2013.
The D of course was designed since but isn't considered to mitigate the hazards inherent with the type as it does not include many of the benefits found on aircraft certified to FAR29 Amendment 45+ and so is not ALARP.
Announced at Heli-Expo in 2005, the S-76D is moving out of its protracted development phase and into certification flight-test and low-rate production. Initial certification is expected by year-end, with deliveries to begin in the first quarter of 2012—a four-year delay.
The D model is a major upgrade to the S-76, more than 800 of which have been delivered since it first flew in 1977. With more-powerful engines, improved rotor and integrated avionics, the S-76D is designed to combine the single-engine performance of the corporate-preferred S-76B with the cruise fuel-efficiency of the offshore-favored S-76C.
“We get the power of the B with the efficiency of the C family, which is attractive from an operating cost perspective,” says Tim Fox, S-76 senior program manager. Increased power and rotor lift improve hot-and-high performance, dual-speed rotors reduce noise and a rotor ice protection system allows the D to operate in more challenging environments.
“We have power, performance, best-in-class fuel burn, and the D is extremely quiet for its size,” he says. Priced about the same as a similarly equipped C++, the D can lift 1,000lb more and fly 400nm versus 375. These improvements will allow Sikorsky to offer a single model across markets that previously were segmented, Fox says.
“The D gives us openings into new markets and areas of the world, hotter environments where the C could not operate and the B had the power, but not the specific fuel consumption,” says David Franc, S-76 marketing manager. Improved high-altitude performance opens up VIP and EMS markets such as Denver and Mexico City, while “we can go further offshore with greater launch reliability”.
Powered by a pair of digitally controlled, 1,050-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshafts, the D model introduces flaw-tolerant all-composite blades, a Thales TopDeck cockpit with large-format displays and four-axis autopilot, and optional electrically deiced rotors that allow flight into known icing. Active vibration control and health and usage monitoring systems are standard.
After the delays, caused by unexpected and unspecified discoveries during development, the S-76D is on track to meet its performance targets. “Shake-down tests identified weaknesses, which we have fixed,” says Fox, adding “the helicopter is quieter than predicted, rotor lift is slightly greater than predicted and fuel efficiency is on plan.”
Two prototypes, D1 and D2, have logged more than 300hr since the first flight in February 2009, with certification testing getting under way in November 2010. The third aircraft, D3, will join the 750hr. flight-test program later this year, tasked with avionics certification. D1 is moving into powerplant certification from system development, and D2 into performance testing from avionics and autopilot development.
S-76 airframes are manufactured in the Czech Republic by Aero Vodochody and in China by Changhe Aircraft Industries. Aero delivered the first production S-76D airframe to Sikorsky’s final-assembly plant in Coatesvillle, Pa., in December and, with the last S-76C++ to be delivered this December, Changhe is expected to transition to the new model late this year. “We envision dual-sourcing on the D, but this is to be worked out,” says Fox.
One can imagine that following on from the 92 events that Sikorsky may be a little reticent in broadcasting problems encountered. We have lawyers to thank for that. I wonder what it will do to the confidence of operators, and more importantly the crews that will fly it, not knowing the issues involved. I remember living through the BBQ plates, overspeed issues and spindle problems of the A which engendered a feeling of uneasiness.
Still, have to say the 12,000 hours I spent in the machine were the best spent hours ever, but then I never got around much. Lovely machine.