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Sikorsky signals slow burn for new S-92 deals

16th July 2019 - 15:14 GMT | by Tim Martin in London

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Despite updating the long serving S-92 heavy-lift helicopter range by rolling out new S-92A+ and S-92B redesigns in March, Sikorsky is not planning on closing any orders for the two aircraft in the immediate future.

That launch, looked upon by critics at the time as a significant gamble because of oil and gas market difficulties, has now led to customer discussions, according to Sikorsky, but the inability of the manufacturer to convert interest to sales will only add to concern that the original decision was premature.

‘We have many customers that are still learning about the product and we are still in the process of developing [those prospects],’ a Sikorsky spokesperson told Shephard in a statement. 

‘While we are starting to talk about price and availability, it would be a bit early to look for first orders especially given the cautious optimism in the oil and gas space, that is still far from an up cycle.’

Sikorsky has nonetheless defended its decision to move out with the new designs, making clear that the timing of the product releases were worthwhile because of a ‘long-cycle’ heavy market and necessary to ‘allow time for potential customers to understand the value and technology they offer and plan for their fleet needs’.

Of importance too for the OEM is the fact that customer discussions enable initial production decisions to be taken and while no set unit price has been disclosed for the redesigns, its previously been asserted that the S-92B, for example, will undercut historic prices of the older S-92, according to Audrey Brady, VP of commercial systems and services at Sikorsky.

‘The concern across the oil and gas industry continues to be cost focused, which makes the S-92A+ and S-92B a particularly interesting option with its targets for lower operating cost,’ the spokesperson added.

Modifications for the two aircraft include enhanced flight control systems and main gearbox changes, with the S-92A+ receiving an increased 1,200lbs (544kg) payload.

That aircraft also has an upgrade kit that includes Sikorsky’s Matrix 1.0. Super Search Technology and new crew and passenger seats.

Optional installation of the GE CT7-846 powerplant for better hot and high performance is also on offer.

The S-92B shares the same features of the S-92A+ but comes with a 20% increase in cabin window size.

Asked about how the company intends on sustaining production of its Coatsville facility, following a recent decision by Marilyn Hewson, CEO at Lockheed Martin to keep it open, the company indicated that it will continue to engage with DOD, congress, commercial customers and others to pursue additional work on that front.

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