The Sikorsky S-76 Spirit is an American multi-purpose medium-size commercial helicopter. The S-76 is powered by two turboshafts which combine to drive the main and tail rotors, each with four blades. The S-76 landing gear is retractable.
The development of the machine began with Sikorsky in the middle of the 1970s. Target group were companies, which looked for a medium business helicopter, as well as the oil drilling industry. Sikorsky's development experiences from the UH-60 Black Hawk served as the basis for the S-74 (later renamed S-76 Spirit in honor of the US Bicentennial). which was able to transport 2 pilots and 12 passengers, received first two Allison 250 C30 turboshafts with 478 kW each. The prototype completed its first flight on 13 March 1977.
The S-76A was the first production variant. The type achieved 1982 several class records within the range climbing achievement, maximum speed and ceiling. Several airlines operate the S-76A on scheduled services including Helijet Airways of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
After the S-76A, the S-76 Mk II (1982), the S-76B in the year 1987 with a top speed of 155 knots at sea level. Over 500 S-76s had been delivered by early 2001.
Until December 2005 the S-76C+ was in production. It is equipped with Turboméca Arriel 2S1 engines with FADEC and an EFIS suite from Honeywell. The tail rotor could be made quieter by modification. For comfort, increased active noise and vibration dampers are used. The main rotor is manufactured from composite materials.
Since 3 January 2006 the certified S-76 C++ has the more efficient Turboméca Arriel 2S2, an intake air filter, an improved and quieter transmission as well as changes of detail at the interior equipment and electronics. There were 92 orders for this model as of January 2006.
In 2009 the S-76D is currently under development and will be powered by 1,050 shp PW210S engines driving composite material rotors and will incorporate active vibration control. A prototype made its first flight on 7 February 2009; type certification is expected in 2010 and deliveries are anticipated later that year. Three prototypes will be used in the certification program. One aircraft will be used to obtain certification of an optional electric rotor ice-protection system. Performance will be substantially improved with the added power, but initial certification will retain the same gross weight (11,700 pounds) and maximum cruise speed (155 knots). The rotor rpm will be self adjusting in flight. The higher rpm setting for takeoff and landing and a lower rpm setting for cruise for improved range.
The S-76 is in use around the world with airlines, corporations, hospital, government operators and, notably, the British Royal Family. The world's largest civilian fleet (79) of Sikorsky S-76 helicopters is operated by CHC Helicopter Corporation.
Specifications (Sikorsky S-76C++)
Published in July 2009.
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