Thursday, November 1, 2012
FAA Certifies S-76D; Bond S-92 Completions Begin
Bond Aviation Group CEO Richard Mintern visited Sikorsky’s commercial manufacturing plant in Coatesville, Pa. in early October to examine the initial two baseline S-92s that are part of a 16-aircraft order placed during Heli-Expo in February 2012.
Bond Aviation’s group fleet and engineering director, Martin Whittaker, came along to get a look at the green S-92 combo that will go into service with Norsk Helikopter in January 2013 following completions at Sikorsky Global Helicopters (SGH) in Coatesville.
“I’m excited. Today is a momentous day really, where we come and do our first acceptance of the aircraft. We’re very pleased to be teaming with Sikorsky,” Mintern said on Oct. 4 before a handover ceremony with more than 50 employees, including Sikorsky Global Helicopters director of programs Dan Hunter and Ed Beyer, vice president and general manager.
The partnership marks the first time that Bond will operate a Sikorsky variant. The World Helicopter Group subsidiary primarily flies Eurocopter types, including the AS332, AS365N3 and EC225, as well as a few AgustaWestland helicopters.
Mintern noted that around 45 percent of the organization’s fleet is dedicated to HEMS/search and rescue, 30 percent to safety and environment, and about 25 percent energy services/oil and gas.
|The hangar doors open up at the Sikorsky S-92 area in Coatesville. Bond Aviation Group is due to receive its first two S-92s in January 2013.|
|Sikorsky has obtained the S-76D type certificate.|
According to Sikorsky officials, all of the various configurations for the S-76D will be available with first deliveries in early 2013, including VIP, offshore and SAR. One of the only exceptions is certification for the rotor ice protection system. “Because it’s so calendar driven,” Beyer explained, the certification delays “pushed the icing to the right. We’re forecasting dry air testing and subsystem qualification activities on rotor ice protection this winter, and then we will fly behind the tanker and find natural icing the following winter. So we’d say by the end of next winter we’ll have full certification for the ice protection.”
Beyer explained that Sikorsky plans to deliver 10-14 baseline S-76Ds this year. Coatesville will produce more than 30 S-92s during 2012, a 60 percent increase in production over 2011. The uptick will help address the demand for the S-92, according to Beyer.
SGH also carries out airframe assembly for the CH-148 Canadian Maritime Helicopter before final assembly occurs in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Coatesville location is a silver Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) site, according to standards from parent company UTC.
Beyer noted that SGH is seeing “a lot of metrics that are hitting gold standard,” adding that gold certification is anticipated in another year or two.
“Our focus has been to do what we’ve done—get control of completions so that we can deliver a very high quality product to our customers, and then also creating a truly commercial piece of the business. And that’s been very successful,” Beyer said.