Sikorsky denies it has lost the trust of offshore helicopter operators amid an ongoing spares shortage that has left large numbers of S-92s grounded and insists it remains committed to the civil helicopter market.

Now owned by defence giant Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky’s annual production is dominated by military helicopters, in particular the UH-60M Black Hawk or its derivatives.


Source: FlightGlobal

S-92 availability has been hampered by spares shortages

In 2023, just six of Sikorsky’s 69 total deliveries were civil helicopters – three S-76Ds and a trio of S-92s – and the current backlog consists of three more S-92s for VIP transport missions.

Current issues with S-92 availability for the oil and gas sector have brought concerns about an apparent indifference to the civil market to the fore.

Leon Silva, Sikorsky vice-president of global commercial and military systems, acknowledges “a little bit of drama” around the issue but plays down the suggestion there is a rift with its customer base.

“But when I talk to my customers… I don’t think I have a trust issue. I think they understand what’s going on and that we have been very, very transparent and they are fully aware of the plans we have in place and that things are slowly improving,” he said at a media briefing at the Heli-Expo show on 27 February.

Silva expects that the actions Sikorsky is implementing to address the shortage of spare main gearboxes will see the situation normalise by the end of 2024.

“We remain very committed to the commercial market,” he adds, describing it as a “robust and vibrant opportunity”.

Discussions are ongoing with several potential S-92 customers regarding the “next lot of significant aircraft production”, Silva says, which could be finalised “at some point, I expect, this year”.

Lead time for an offshore-configured example is currently around 36 months.

Work also continues on the new S-92A+ upgrade which incorporates the latest Phase IV gearbox – boasting improved run-dry capability – onto the heavy-twin.

Certification is expected in 2025 with launch customers already secured, says Silva. In all, it has around 15 orders for the upgrade kit and is seeing interest from operators in multiple sectors and delivery slots are available from 2026. The S-92A+ will also become the standard for new-build aircraft.

“We remain very committed to the S-92 and the requirements we have from this very active fleet,” he says.

However, Sikorsky has yet to decide where it will build the S-92 having in 2022 shuttered the previous production facility in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

Silva says the company has a “lot of options” and will make a decision when needed.

Meanwhile, it is continuing to discuss a sale of the mothballed S-76 programme with several interested parties, a move that could potentially see production revived.

“We have actually extended our engagement with more organisations – there’s actually more interest this year than in the past.”