Two Sikorsky S-92 heavy twin helicopters will begin performing passenger and cargo lift services in Afghanistan in February as part of a contract with AAR Corporation.

AAR purchased two 19-seat helicopters as part of a five-year, $450 million contract from the US transportation command, issued in October.

The company will use the S-92s to augment its current lift services using 15 S-61N Sea King helicopters.

The S-92s are configured for a mix of passengers and cargo, carrying up to three 0.37m2 (4ft2) cargo pallets secured to rings in the seat tracks and cabin walls. For each pallet, Sikorsky says it developed a "special fire containment cover to contain and suffocate flames, and added smoke detectors". Passengers will be separated from cargo by a fabric partition.

Sikorsky says it has delivered 129 S-92 helicopters to commercial customers in the oil and gas industry, search and rescue, VIP transport and utility sectors. since introduction of the type in 2004.

The fleet to date has accumulated 285,000 flight hours, a record for a commercial fleet of Sikorsky helicopters in a similar timeframe, says the company.

"Deployment to Afghanistan is a tremendous opportunity for AAR and the US government to see what the multi-mission S-92 aircraft is capable of in some very challenging flight conditions at high altitude," says Ed Beyer, vice president for Sikorsky Global Helicopters. "The unique interior configuration of these two aircraft also will give AAR greater mission flexibility to perform its utility and transport missions."

Source: Flight International