Sikorsky has deferred plans to upgrade the S-76 medium twin-turbine helicopter due to continuing demand for the current C+ model and to focus resources on completing the larger S-92 programme. The company is instead evaluating longer-term proposals for a re-engined S-76D version.

The US manufacturer had announced plans in 2001 to introduce an improved S-76 in the second quarter of next year. This has been delayed by at least a year and the only planned change is an uprated Turbomecca Arriel 2S2 turboshaft engine, in place of the current Arriel 2S1. The new powerplant will offer 6% more power and an electronic engine control.

The original plan was to include a new flat panel glass cockpit and digital databus architecture, active noise and vibration control, de-icing system and redesigned quiet tail rotor. Sources suggest a final decision will have to be made this year for some of these features to meet the scheduled 2005 entry into service of the uprated engine on the S-76C+.

The manufacturer may hold off until it decides whether to develop a re-engined 15-seat S-76D, tentatively targeted for 2006. Candidates include the LHTEC T800, a 745kW (1,000shp) growth version of the Pratt & Whitney PW200 or an improved Turbomecca TM333. A bigger engine could undermine the S-76's competitive cost advantage on the slightly larger Bell/Agusta AB139. Delays in certificating the new Italian machine and a recent pick-up in S-76C+ sales have made the need for an upgrade less urgent.


Source: Flight International