Farnborough 2018: UK coastguard lauds S-92 search-and-rescue helo

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has praised the increased capability and reliability that the Sikorsky S-92 search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter has provided since it replaced the military’s Westland Sea Kings in 2015.

Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow on 18 July, agency officials and helicopter crews highlighted the improvements that the 12 S-92s, operated by Bristow Helicopters Limited (BHL), have brought to the United Kingdom for maritime and overland airborne SAR.

“There is no fall back any longer, now that the military has gone from search and rescue. The MCA is the largest operator of aviation in the UK outside of the Ministry of Defence,” Damian Oliver, MCA aviation programme director, said, adding; “The S-92 is showing close to 100% availability at each of its [six] operating locations. It has a 250 n mile radius that takes it out to the edge of the UK’s rescue zone, and its 165 kt top speed leaves the Sea King for dust.”

The MCA has operated the S-92 since 2007, but it was in April 2015 that the type was tasked along with the AgustaWestland AW189 to fully take on the role of airborne SAR from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN). BHL provides the service with S-92s located at Stornoway, Sumburgh, Newquay, Caernarfon, Humberside, and Inverness; and AW189s at Lee-on-Solent, Prestwick, St Athan, Inverness, and Manston (two helicopters at each location, with two more used for training). Since April 2015, the MCA has conducted 4,500 SAR missions using its S-92s. As Oliver noted, while the helicopters are flown for the MCA, some 52% of the missions are overland rather than maritime rescues.

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Labace 2018

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Sikorsky expands FSL, adds S-92 blade repair capability in Brazil

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, announced June 7 the relocation and expansion of its Brazil-based forward stocking location (FSL) at a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by local operator CEOs and Sikorsky officials. The strategic decision positions Sikorsky products closer to operators and further bolsters the company’s dedication to maximizing customers’ fleet availability.

The new location in Barra da Tijuca, close to the Jacarepaguá airport, will house nearly seven times the amount of stocked inventory than at the previous Multiterminais location. The move positions the FSL and Sikorsky aircraft parts in close proximity to Brazilian operators including Líder Aviação, Omni Helicopters International and CHC Helicopter.

Turn-around time for receiving parts is anticipated to improve from the current 24 hours to under two hours and will further reduce costs for Sikorsky operators.

Sikorsky also announced plans to add S-92 helicopter blade repair capability in Brazil.

Composite Technology do Brasil (CTB), a joint venture between Sikorsky-owned CTI and Líder Aviação, has been repairing S-76 rotor blades in Brazil since 1999. Within the next year, CTB will add S-92 blade repair capabilities as well, which will improve repair turn-around time and significantly reduce costs for S-92 operators in Brazil.

Having the capability to perform the repairs in-country eliminates taxes and fees associated with export and also removes at least 30 days of transit time from the overall repair schedule.

“Brazil is a key country for us — the heart of our commercial business in Latin America,” said Adam Schierholz, Sikorsky’s regional executive for Latin America. “Our fleet of S-92 and S-76 aircraft have operational availability rates of greater than 94 percent. As the Brazilian economy and offshore outlook recovers, we are listening to our customers, and taking steps to further increase those industry leading availability rates.”

Eight Brazilian commercial operators currently fly a total of 90 Sikorsky aircraft throughout the country.

The Barra da Tijuca site is one of four Sikorsky FSLs positioned to provide close support for commercial customers. The other sites are in Perth, Australia; Aberdeen, Scotland; and Stavanger, Norway.


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CAL Fire places purchase order for FIREHAWK® aircraft

United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods, and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, today received a purchase order from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) for the acquisition of a new Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk aircraft, to be modified into FIREHAWK® firefighting configuration by United Rotorcraft. This aircraft will be the latest firefighting tool put into service with CAL FIRE to protect property and the citizens of California.

The purchase order follows a decision by the California Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees approving the budget for up to 12 of the aircraft to replace the state’s aging UH-1H fleet over the next five years. The Sikorsky manufactured S-70 is based on the legendary Black Hawk military helicopter, and is uniquely equipped to endure the unrelenting physical stresses demanded of the aerial firefighting and utility missions.

The FIREHAWK features next generation technology, which will provide substantial benefit to firefighting operators. Features include wide chord rotor blades for increased payload and maneuverability, a rugged airframe, digital glass cockpit with flight management system for improved situation awareness and precision hover capability using an enhanced global positioning system and an inertial navigation system. An Integrated Vehicle Health Management System monitors the aircraft’s operational health for preventive maintenance to detect anomalies for early maintenance.

“Igor Sikorsky founded our company with the vision of saving lives,” said Jeanette Eaton, Sikorsky regional sales executive for the United States and Canada.  “On a daily basis, the men and women of CAL FIRE put themselves in harm’s way to protect and save property, homes and lives. We are honored to have been selected as the best equipped aircraft to address California’s firefighting needs and provide the overall best value.  Even more so, we are humbled to play a role in their demanding mission and fulfilling Igor’s vision.”

Once assembled, the aircraft are modified by United Rotorcraft with a 1,000-gallon (3,785-liter) water tank equipped with a unique snorkel system for 60-second tank refill, extended landing gear, single pilot cockpit layout and a medically equipped interior, all of which arm the aircraft for its role as a multi-mission firefighting tool.

“United Rotorcraft and Sikorsky are honored to support CAL FIRE’s stewardship of over 31 million acres throughout California,” said Mike Slattery, president of United Rotorcraft. “As seasons have become longer and more severe, it’s crucial that California has these high-performance FIREHAWK helicopters, which allow initial attack capabilities that can knock down fires early before they spread widely.”

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