Sikorsky has set an internal goal to fly the S-97 high-speed helicopter by 1 December to kick-off a demonstration aimed at securing a military customer for the self-funded project.
A computer display inside the S-97 final assembly hangar on 5 May showed the S-97 is "209 days to first flight," allowing for the event to occur no later than 1 December on schedule.
Sikorsky opened the doors to the S-97 production hangar to reporters as part of the rollout ceremony for the CH-53K King Stallion.
The hangar revealed the mostly composite airframe of the S-97 is almost fully assembled, with wiring and some avionics systems. But the aircraft still misses a transmission and drive train, including a General Electric CT7 engine, coaxial rotor and pusher propeller.
Sikorsky plans to power-on the S-97 electrical system by the end of May, once all the wiring is completed.
The S-97 is designed to be twice the weight of the high-speed Sikorsky X2 prototype that was retired in 2012 after achieving speeds over 250kt in level flight.
Sikorsky launched the S-97 – with an estimated $200 million price tag, including supplier contributions – to open a new market for military and perhaps later civilian high-speed helicopters.
The S-97 is aimed initially at replacing the Boeing MH-6M Little Bird fleet operated by the US Special Operations Command. The US Army also has a requirement for an armed aerial scout, although it plans to divest the Bell Helicopter OH-58 Kiowa Warrior fleet.