Sikorsky has added real-time aircraft tracking and health monitoring for the S-92 fleet operated by Louisiana-based PHI, leveraging a satellite communications system designed to transmit and receive data through the heavylift helicopter’s rotor wash.

The announcement on 7 March at the Heli-Expo convention marks a milestone in in-flight monitoring of helicopter fleets that often operate far offshore or in remote areas overland, servicing oil and gas drilling platforms.

The new system now operational on PHI’s S-92 fleet reduces the interval for aircraft position reports from 1-2min to every 10s, according to Sikorsky. It meanwhile collects and transmits any maintenance alerts or warnings to PHI’s ground control staff.

The 10s position reports “takes the search out of search and rescue”, says Mike Stanbury, chief executive of Metro Aviation, the communications supplier.

In the event of an off-shore accident, the real-time transmissions from the S-92’s health usage and monitoring system (HUMS) could significantly reduce the delay in finding out what happened.

“Our aircrews are never alone,” says PHI.