Any S-92 with RIPS will now be allowed to launch in icy weather that might otherwise delay or cancel flight operations. The RIPS determines the temperature and moisture content of the surrounding environment and applies heat to the main and tail rotor blades to remove any ice buildup.
"One of the S-92's key features is its all-year, all-weather capability. Certification of RIPS adds to the S-92's reputation as the most modern and efficient aircraft in its class," said Jeffrey Pino, Sikorsky's Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Commercial Programs.
The FAA granted the certification upon completion of final flight tests in Alaska in October. Those tests also included evaluations by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and by Transport Canada, the Canadian certifying agency. Sikorsky is seeking S-92 RIPS certification from both agencies.
Most of the S-92 helicopters delivered to date or ordered include RIPS. Beginning this month, Sikorsky teams will visit customers to update the previously delivered RIPS equipment and activate the system for operation now that it has received certification. Besides Sikorsky, key suppliers include the Autronics and Penny & Giles divisions of Curtiss-Wright and the Moog Corporation.
Development of the S-92 RIPS began in 1997 and included three years of aircraft testing. That testing began with ice accretion tests in the Eglin Air Force Base McKinley Climatic Hangar in Florida and dry air tests of simulated ice on the tail surfaces in 2003. In 2004 Sikorsky conducted flight-testing behind a CH-47D helicopter with special equipment that creates a cloud of ice in the air behind it. The tests ended with flights in natural icing conditions in 2004 and 2005 at sites from the northeastern United States, through Canada to Alaska.
Sikorsky also plans to incorporate similar rotor ice protection equipment on the new S-76D helicopter, which is slated to enter service in 2008.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacturing and service. United Technologies Corporation, based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.