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Sikorsky S-92 helicopter. ((Cougar Helicopters))

The Sikorsky S-92 helicopter's design "evolved" from that of the S-70 Black Hawk and Seahawk aircraft, according to the company, and it took its first flight on Dec. 23, 1998. The Sikorsky S-92 medium-lift utility helicopter is sold in a number of configurations to commercial customers, including those in the offshore oil industry, airlines, emergency medical services, search-and-rescue, and what the company refers to as VIP  and head-of-state transport. There's also a military version, called the H-92 Superhawk.

Specifications:

The S-92 commercial helicopter has two GE CT7-8A turboshaft engines driving four blades, and a top speed of 280 kilometres per hour. The "airline" configuration of the S-92 helicopter seats up to 19 passengers and has a range for fully loaded flights of up to 476 nautical miles (882 kilometres), according to the company. Its maximum range without reserves is 999 km and it cruises at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. The cabin is six feet high, 6.58 feet wide and 20 feet long.

Customers:

The Sikorsky S-92 is sold in a number of configurations for commercial customers, including those in offshore oil and airlines. According to Sikorsky, the S-92 has been purchased by a number of companies that serve the resource industry, including Canada's Cougar Helicopters Inc. and CHC Helicopter Corp., U.S.-based Petroleum Helicopters Inc. and Norsk Helikopter of Norway.

Presidential Connection:

Sikorsky made helicopters for Marine One (the U.S. President's helicopter) for nearly half a century before losing the presidential contract in 2005 to Lockheed Martin Corp. One of the prototypes of the S-92 was turned into the VH-92 demonstrator as part of the company's unsuccessful U.S. presidential helicopter bid.

Certifications:

The S-92 helicopter is, "the most advanced aircraft in Sikorsky's civil product line, certified to the most stringent safety requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)," according to the company. It adds that the aircraft has been designated "the safest helicopter in the world" by the FAA.

Safety Features:

The commercial version of the S-92 has a number of safety features, according to the company's spec sheet, such as:

  • Enhanced ground proximity warning protection
  • Crashworthy seats
  • Three cabin emergency hatches
  • Cabin windows that can be jettisoned to make escape easier
  • Emergency flotation and life raft systems
  • A fuel containment and supply system using two crashworthy fuel cells that keeps fuel away from the cabin and prevents hazardous spray.
  • An optional rotor-ice protection system
  • Energy-absoring landing gear
  • Traffic collision avoidance system
  • Weather radar
  • Bird strike protection even at the aircraft's maximum speed
  • Lightning strike protection
  • High energy turbine burst protection

Safety Record:

In 2005, an airworthiness directive for the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. was issued for its S-92A helicopters. The directive called for the replacement of select tail gearbox output housing that had completed at least 600 or more hours of service. The FAA noted the directive was issued to prevent loss of control of the helicopter, loss of tail rotor drive and failure of the tail gearbox output housing.