Heli-Expo 2011: Deliveries of the CH-148 Cyclone 'imminent'
Sikorsky is ‘weeks rather than months’ away from finally delivering the first interim aircraft for the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter programme for the Canadian Forces (CF), according to CEO Jeff Pino.
A long-running dispute regarding the purchase of the maritime helicopters was seemingly settled when 28 Cyclones were ordered under a $1.8 billion contract to replace the primary Canadian shipboard helicopter, the CH-124 Sea King.
Following delays due to issues surrounding the mission system integration aboard the aircraft, in June 2010 Sikorsky announced that as a provisional measure the CF would receive six interim CH-148 Cyclones in November.
However, delivery of these aircraft was also delayed due to undisclosed issues Sikorsky claimed was beyond its control.
Speaking to reporters at a ‘state of Sikorsky’ presentation at Heli-Expo in Orlando, Pino said delivery of interim aircraft was now ‘imminent’ and highlighted progress on the programme that included 750 flight hours completed, ongoing sea trials in Canada and the finalising of the aircraft’s certification.
Pino said although the delays in delivery had resulted in penalty payments, these could be ‘rationalised’ over the life of the programme.
‘This is a very interesting and lucrative contract where the Canadians want to pay to fly and leave the rest to the OEM,’ Pino said.
The company was working with the Canadian government on the possibility of a bigger transmission for the CH-148, although it may take six months for the final configuration to be determined.
Pino outlined a range of highlights for the company in 2010, which included $6.7 billion in sales for the year; the launch of the S-97 Raider, which is based on the X-2 coaxial compound aircraft; more than 300 hours in flight testing of the new S-76D; continuing strong sales of the Black Hawk family; and the CH-53K passing its critical design review.
He said while ‘heads were down at the Pentagon’ with cuts to numerous projects, the company itself had not been affected on any of its US military programmes.
On the commercial side, Pino said revenues were back to 2006 levels and were expected to pick up further at the end of 2011. He predicted that when the market ‘comes back, it will come back with a vengeance’.
Meanwhile, while the company has added a range of new capabilities to the S-92 medium lift helicopter, these were unrelated to the findings of investigation into the loss of an S-92 off the coast of Newfoundland in 2009 that killed 17 people.
When asked if the company planned any redesigns to the S-92 following the final report of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), which raised issues with the certification of the aircraft’s gearbox, Pino said: ‘We are always upgrading the aircraft – we are looking at some gross weight improvements, we are looking at some reliability improvements, there is a new transmission mount that is coming out, which is not related to the Cougar incident that I think you are talking about.
‘That report is out. We have no redesign based on that incident – most of the changes are from a reliability standpoint and from a direct operating cost standpoint.’
The company has introduced 21 new technologies encompassing navigational, communications and airframe improvements, including NVG cockpit lighting, an internal auxiliary fuel certification for the SAR configuration, a left-hand side sliding hatch, and new cockpit voice recorder/flight data recorder.
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