Sikorsky plans to double the size of its business to become a $4 billion operation by 2008 and sees the development of X2 technology, leading to a helicopter capable of flying at more than 250kt (460km/h), as a key differentiator in the marketplace.

Fresh from announcing a record-breaking $250 million order for 35 S-76s at the show this week, Jeff Pino, Sikorsky senior vice-president commercial programmes, outlined his vision for the future shape of the manufacturer.

"Our sales grew by 15% in 2004 and our operating profit by 10%. When you consider we fielded a brand new helicopter in the S-92, with the associated development costs, and we had the setback of the Comanche cancellation and not being selected for the presidential helicopter mission, we are still performing very well.

"We expect to see double-digit growth this year and our aftermarket turnover will rise to $1.2 billion. By 2008 we expect the aftermarket to be worth $2 billion to Sikorsky. I think people sometimes underestimate how important a sector that is."

Pino says Sikorsky subsidiary Schweizer Aircraft will act as a rapid-prototyping centre for technologies including X2, under the designation 'Hawk Works'.

Through X2 Sikorsky plans to design, develop and launch a coaxial-rotor helicopter capable of cruising at 250kt, over a 700nm (1,300km) range. The aircraft would have fly-by-wire integrated flight controls and feature proprietary drag-reduction technology.

"We've had initial discussions with potential customers about the value they place on speed," says Pino. "We think speed will be the next value commodity in helicopter flight."

Sikorsky's balance book will be strengthened by a huge US Army order for at least 1,200 new-build UH-60M Black Hawksover the next decade and a contract for more than 500 MH-60R/S aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News