Both aircraft are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to simultaneously carry both passengers and cargo in the same cabin space.
“Deployment to Afghanistan is a tremendous opportunity for AAR and the U.S. Government to see what the multi-mission S-92 aircraft is capable of in some very challenging flight conditions at high altitude,” said Ed Beyer, vice president for Sikorsky Global Helicopters. “The unique interior configuration of these two aircraft also will give AAR greater mission flexibility to perform its utility and transport missions.”
The FAA certified an easily configurable interior with variable seating while carrying up to three 4 ft. sq.-sized cargo pallets secured to rings in the seat tracks and cabin walls to assure crashworthiness. For each pallet, Sikorsky developed a special fire containment cover to contain and suffocate flames, and added smoke detectors. To separate the passengers from cargo, Sikorsky designed a fabric partition, and added a fire extinguisher and Protective Breathing Equipment for passengers and crew.
AAR purchased the two S-92 aircraft following an October 2010 USTRANSCOM contract award valued at $450 million to provide up to five years of airlift service in Afghanistan. Both aircraft are expected to begin operations in Afghanistan during February 2011. AAR already operates 15 Sikorsky S-61N aircraft in various mission roles, including Afghanistan.
“We evaluated a number of alternatives before concluding that the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter was the best choice to meet the arduous demands of supporting tactical lift missions in remote and extremely harsh environments,” said Jeff Schloesser, president of AAR’s Airlift Group during an acceptance ceremony at Sikorsky Global Helicopter’s facility in Coatesville, Pa., where the aircraft are manufactured. “The selection came down to choosing the aircraft that best fulfills the requirements and enables us to offer reliability, responsiveness and the best long-term business case for the military.”
Sikorsky has delivered 129 S-92 helicopters since September 2004 to commercial customers in the oil and gas industry, search and rescue, VIP transport and utility sectors. During those six years, the worldwide S-92 aircraft fleet has accumulated 285,000 flight hours, a record for a commercial fleet of Sikorsky helicopters in a similar timeframe.
A military version of the S-92 airframe ─ the CH148 helicopter equipped for naval operations ─ is being designed and produced for the Canadian Government. Additionally, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have proposed a variant to the U.S. Navy for the next ‘Marine One’ helicopter fleet to transport the president of the United States. The standard S-92 aircraft includes a spacious cockpit with excellent exterior visibility, a stand-up cabin for up to 19 passengers, modern avionics with large NVG-compatible displays, a crashworthy fuel system separated from the passenger compartment, and a rear ramp for loading passengers or cargo.
The S-92 was certified to FAA/EASA harmonized Part 29 requirements, as amended through Amendment 47. The S-92 remains the only aircraft to have been certified to this rigorous airworthiness standard without exception or waiver.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.