Sikorsky is flight-testing the first S-92 upgraded to represent the H-92 military variant of the helicopter. Aircraft 3 has been modified, with an increased gross weight capability, extended main rotor shaft, upgraded electrical system, lighter tailrotor pylon and improved cockpit display layout. Aircraft 5 is being similarly upgraded and the improvements will be incorporated in all future S/H-92s.

Aircraft 3 has also been modified to include the cabin extension, lowered tail pylon and relocated horizontal stabiliser previously incorporated into aircraft 4 and 5. Additionally, the helicopter has been retrofitted with the Rockwell Collins glass cockpit and integrated avionics first installed in aircraft 4. Other changes include improved landing gear, upgraded drive train, optimised anti-vibration system and redundant fuel boost pump on the auxiliary power unit. The increased gross weight and rotor changes increase the S-92 payload to more than 5,000kg (11,000lb), says Sikorsky.

Risk-sharing partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is nearing completion of the cabin for aircraft 6, the first production S-92, and Sikorsky has ordered long-lead components for the first two production lots, covering aircraft for delivery by the end of 2004.

The first military customer is the Irish Air Corps, but a legal challenge filed by losing bidder Eurocopter could delay the signing of a contract for three firm and two option aircraft.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin flew the first fully capable Sikorsky MH-60R multi-mission maritime helicopter for the US Navy on 4 April.

Source: Flight International