Sikorsky's next-generation medium twin helicopter the S-76D has entered production at Aero Vodochody's facility in the Czech Republic.

The first S-76D production airframe - serial number 761004 - will be shipped to Sikorsky's Coatesville, Pennsylvania facility for final assembly in April. Subsequent S-76D airframes will be shipped from Aero Vodochody at the rate of one a month as production ramps up.

Much of the S-76D manufacture is outsourced, including the engines, airframe, avionics and tail pylon. Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2011. The S-76D is undergoing certification flight testing at West Palm Beach, Florida.

"It has taken a tremendous amount of co-ordination, teamwork and dedication to reach this important milestone in the S-76D helicopter programme, both within Sikorsky's operations and with many key suppliers who have contributed to the programme," says S-76D helicopter programme manager Tim Fox.

The S-76D helicopter production effort is supported by more than 30 key suppliers. The S-76D features a composite four-blade main rotor system with optional ice protection, Thales avionics and autopilot, a dual-speed rotor with active vibration control and Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshaft engines.

Source: Flight International