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CH-53K helicopter powers up and spins rotor heads

11th February 2014 - 11:04 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The first Sikorsky Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) prototype CH-53K helicopter in development for the US Marine Corps has been powered up and had its rotor head spun as the aircraft’s ‘Bare Head Light Off’ phase of testing continues.

This phase of testing – conducted without rotor blades – began under auxiliary power in December with safety-of-flight test pilots at the aircraft's controls.

The GTV is in two-year ground test programme with Sikorsky and US Marine Corps test pilots. The testing, being conducted at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility, will measure the 44,000-pound GTV aircraft’s ability to operate safely under its own power.

Mike Torok, vice president, CH-53K Program, Sikorsky, said: ‘GTV main engines powered 'on' is a significant step for the CH-53K helicopter programme. Having independently tested the aircraft's many components and subsystems, including electrical and avionics, hydraulics and flight controls, landing gear, propulsion, transmissions and rotors; now we have begun testing these critical functions as an entire system powered by the GTV aircraft's three GE 7,500 shaft horsepower class engines.’

Once Bare Head testing is completed, Sikorsky will mount seven main rotor blades and four tail rotor blades onto the GTV. During this second test phase, Sikorsky will conduct extensive aircraft system checks leading to a formal Pre-Flight Acceptance Test required to clear the first flight aircraft for flight testing. 

Four additional test aircraft are being prepared for flight test, commencing in late 2014. During the three-year flight test programme, Sikorsky will continue to evaluate the GTV for long-term endurance of the engines and dynamic components, survivability, and maintenance practices.

Col. Robert Pridgen, US Marine Corps Program Manager for Heavy Lift Helicopters, said: ‘We have entered a much anticipated phase in this developmental programme. We have experienced significant learning at the sub-system and component level, which continues to build our confidence in the capabilities of the 53K. We look forward to the initial validation and discovery at a full system level.’

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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