The Sikorsky S-92 is a four-bladed twin-engine medium-lift helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the civil and military helicopter market. The S-92 was developed from the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter and shares common parts with the S-70, such as the tail rotor assembly.
The H-92 Superhawk is a military version of the S-92 in the utility transport role, capable of carrying 22 troops. The H-92 can also be configured for specific missions, including Search and Rescue and executive transportation. The CH-148 Cyclone is a shipboard maritime helicopter variant currently under development for the Canadian Forces. From February 2009, the S-92 program was placed under Sikorsky Global Helicopters, Sikorsky's new civil helicopter business unit.
Sikorsky first displayed a S-92 mockup of the planned helicopter in 1992. The S-92 was to be offered for sale beginning in 1993, but due to a decline in the international market for helicopters, this was delayed. In 1995 Sikorsky formed Team S-92 with international partners and launched the helicopter program at the Paris Airshow that year. The helicopter uses a new airframe with dynamic components based on the S-70/H-60 components. The S-92 took its maiden flight on December 23, 1998 at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center, West Palm Beach, Florida.
In July 2000, Sikorsky announced design changes to the S-92. The fuselage of prototype #3 was lengthened by 16 in (40 cm) aft of the cockpit, the tail pylon was shortened by 41 in (1.04 m), and the horizontal stabilizer was repositioned from the left side opposite the tail rotor to the right side at the base of the tail pylon. The modifications to the tail solved a pitch stability issue discovered during flight testing, and were reported to allow the aircraft to meet a key requirement of the Nordic Standard Helicopter Program (NSHP) for shipboard stowage. The lengthening of the fuselage and shortening of the tail pylon shifted the aircraft center of gravity (CG) forward, permitting a more level attitude in flight. The longer fuselage allowed for an additional row of three seats, as well as a larger passenger door option for Search and Rescue (SAR) customers. Sikorsky incorporated the changes into the following two prototypes as the production standard configuration. Some reports suggested that the modifications were actually to resolve damage from structural design flaws.
The S-92 is built and customized in Sikorsky's Coatesville, Pennsylvania facility.
The S-92 is a twin turbine engined utility helicopter with aluminium airframe with some composite components. The four-bladed fully articulated composite main rotor blade is wider and has a longer radius than the S-70 Blackhawk. The tapered blade tip sweeps back and angles downward to reduce noise and increase lift. Tethered hover flight has recorded 31,000 lb of lift generated, both in and out of ground effect.
A number of safety features such as flaw tolerance, bird strike capability, and engine burst containment have been incorporated into the design. Adherence to FAA FAR part 29 has led the FAA certification board to call the S-92 the "safest helicopter in the world". The S-92 reportedly met the FAR part 29 "run dry" requirement by asserting the loss of oil pressure in the main gear box is "extremely remote". An active vibration system using structurally mounted force generators ensures comfortable flight and acoustic levels which are well below certification requirements. These systems also prolong the life of the airframe by reducing fatigue loads on the aircraft.
FAA FAR part 29 certification was received in December 2002. European Aviation Safety Agency/Joint Aviation Authorities (EASA/JAA) certification was received in June 2004. The first S-92 was delivered to launch customer Petroleum Helicopters in September 2004. The first Canadian S-92 (serial number 010) was delivered to Cougar Helicopters Inc., a subsidiary of the VIH Aviation Group, in mid-2005. The S-92 entered commercial revenue service with CHC Denmark on 3 July 2007.
The S-92 is a candidate for the Norwegian All Weather Search and Rescue Helicopter (NAWSARH) that is planned to replace the Westland Sea King Mk.43B of the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 2015. The other candidates for the NAWSARH contract of 10-12 helicopters are AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin, Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, Eurocopter EC225, and NHIndustries NH-90.
The S-92 is also competing with Eurocopter EC225 to become the future UK Search and Rescue - Helicopter (SAR-H Programme)
The S-92A is the civilian variant and is available in a number of versions. The civil transport version has an airliner-type interior which comfortably seats 19 passengers in a 20 ft long, 6 ft high and 6 ft 7 in wide standup cabin. The utility transport version has 22 side-facing seats in a large, stand-up cabin with a full cabin width rear ramp. The 733 ft³ interior cabin area can also be configured to accommodate up to three airline-style LD3 cargo containers. Additional stowage space is available in the 140 ft³ area located in the aft ramp compartment.
The H-92 Superhawk is the military variant which has been demonstrated to the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The H-92 has more powerful GE CT7-8C engines, rated at 3,070shp (2,300 kW). The search and rescue variant provides space for seats, litters, auxiliary fuel and SAR emergency equipment.
In July 2004, the H-92 Superhawk was selected by Canada for its Maritime Helicopter Programme (MHP) as the CH-148 Cyclone. Twenty-eight helicopters were ordered, with the first scheduled to enter service by January 9, 2009, which was originally scheduled for November 2008.
Incidents and accidents
On July 19, 2008, an S-92 helicopter carrying Rev. Sun Myung Moon crashed in South Korea. The helicopter was flying in inclement weather which forced it down on a hillside. The 16 people aboard were slightly injured in the crash.
On March 12, 2009, Cougar Helicopters Flight 91, an S-92A operated by Cougar Helicopters carrying 18 passengers and crew en route to oil platforms off the coast of Newfoundland, crashed and sank in 170 meters of water. Canadian accident investigators have determined the helicopter's main gearbox lost oil, which caused the tail rotor failure and lead to the subsequent crash.
Data from S-92 Superhawk brochure
Published - July 2009
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