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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Schweizer Unveils S-434, Names New President

PRODUCTS | AIRFRAMES

Attendees at Heli-Expo in Houston gathered at the Sikorsky Aircraft display area for the unveiling of the first new helicopter design since the company’s 2004 acquisition of Schweizer Aircraft. The helicopter – or more precisely, a scale model of it – that everyone came to see was the S-434.

The turbine-powered S-434 (the model of which is shown left) is similar in appearance to the Schweizer 333, with the most noticeable difference being a four-bladed main rotor and seating for four. The 333 has three main blades and standard seating for three. (The S-434 has two seats slightly behind and above the left and right pilots’ seats.) The S-434 is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C20W that delivers 320-maximum takeoff shp, compared to the 253-shp engine in the 333. The result is a useful load of 1,855 lb, 605 lb more than the 333. The S-434’s engine is fed by an 84-gal fuel tank and has a sticker price just slightly under $1 million for a modestly equipped model.

"The 434 is an exceptional four-seat aircraft," said Schweizer President, Paul Schweizer. "We’re taking orders," he added, citing the sale of nine to the Saudi Arabian government. Schweizer anticipates a 15-month lead time to fill orders for the new aircraft.

Schweizer at the show also introduced a new top executive. David Horton, former CEO of Composite Technology, Inc., will take over as general manager of Schweizer, succeeding Randy Simpson, who had held that position since Sikorsky acquired the manufacturer in 2005. — Ernie Stephens

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