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Paris Air Show 2017: NAVAIR may compress remaining CH-53K test points following positive progress

23 June 2017

The US Navy may compress the remaining test campaign of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter following the positive progress made so far, a senior company official told reporters on 21 June.

The four flight test CH-53K helicopters have amassed 450 hours to date, and progress is being made to the extent that NAVAIR may compress the remaining test points to reduce time and money. (Lockheed Martin)The four flight test CH-53K helicopters have amassed 450 hours to date, and progress is being made to the extent that NAVAIR may compress the remaining test points to reduce time and money. (Lockheed Martin)

Speaking at the Paris Air Show, Sikorsky president Dan Schultz said that the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) may look to skip certain test points as a means of accelerating the programme and saving costs.

"If you can trend a line through data points, you can confidently say that you don't have to test every single test point," Schultz said, adding, "NAVAIR is still analysing the option [for compressing the remaining test points] ... The CH-53K flight test programme continues to perform well against the designated schedule. As in all flight test programmes there is flexibility built into the test requirements based on the aircraft's performance. As confidence builds there is potential that not all flight test points will be required, which in no way compromises the integrity of the flight test plan. We are continuing to move ahead with the CH-53K programme for IOC in 2019."

Briefing at the same event, the programme's chief military test pilot, US Marine Corps (USMC) Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Morel added, "As the scope of the flight test campaign was mapped out at the beginning of the programme, milestones were built in that, if reached, could allow for future test points to be skipped."

With 450 flight test hours flown to date across four helicopters, the CH-53K programme has progressed to the point where "nothing is surprising us", according to Schultz. Having recently been awarded its Milestone C decision, the programme is now in limited-rate production ahead of the commencement of full-rate production shortly.

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