The FAA test requires that the aircraft spend 20 minutes on the ground with the rotor turning during blustery snowfall, five minutes in low altitude hover in a recirculating snow cloud and one hour of level flight. A flight test team from Sikorsky's West Palm Beach, Fla. and Stratford, Conn. facilities conducted tests in January in Marquette, Mich. to collect data supporting the certification.
"The S-76® helicopter team significantly exceeded the FAA test requirements and demonstrated that the barrier filter design can operate safely in severe snow conditions," said Eric Hansen, S-76 Program manager. "The S-76 C++ has been performing well for our customers and this new expansion of the aircraft's envelope means it has even greater capabilities."
The S-76 line of multi-mission medium helicopters serves a variety of roles including offshore oil, executive transport, and airlines.
The S-76C++ helicopter currently in production was first announced in February 2005 as a series of enhancements to the aircraft including engine, air vehicle, interior and avionics upgrades. Among the product improvements made available at that time were a more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2S2 Engine, an inlet barrier filter to protect the engine against erosion and environmental contaminants, a new VIP interior, new optional Health and Usage Monitoring System and a quiet main gearbox using QUIETZONETM technology that significantly reduces interior noise levels without any weight or maintenance penalties.
More than 650 S-76 helicopters have been delivered, and to date have accumulated more than 4.3 million flight hours with 220 operators in 59 countries.
The European Aviation Safety Agency certified the type design in July 2006, paving the way for the export of the C++ to all European Union countries. The EASA approval followed FAA certification in December 2005.
The S-76. introduced in 1977, is poised to unveil its next iteration in the S-76DTM helicopter, on track for initial certification in late 2009.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacturing and service. United Technologies Corp., of Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.