- Sikorsky's HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter achieved first flight
- This enables the company to start flight tests towards a critical Milestone C decision
The Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH), which the company is developing for the US Air Force (USAF), made its first flight on 17 May, an important milestone in the programme's development.
The total flight time was about 1.2 hours. John Biscaino, CRH test pilot, told reporters on 17 May that he performed a variety of tasks during the flight including sideward flight, both left and right; forward flight; and forward air taxi. Biscaino said the aircraft flew to 100 kt and performed angle-of-bank turns. The CRH also performed hover control checks and a pass of the airfield, according to a company statement.
The flight paves the way for a Milestone C production decision in September that, if approved, would allow Sikorsky to enter low-rate initial production (LRIP). A second HH-60W is expected to enter flight test during the week of 20 May with a third and fourth aircraft entering flight test around mid-2019.
Greg Hames, CRH programme director, said the third aircraft is physically on site at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach, Florida facility and is prepping for ground runs. The fourth aircraft, he said, has left the company's Stratford, Connecticut facility and will soon arrive in Florida and begin hangar operations.
Hames said the first CRH flight enables Sikorsky and the USAF to start collecting data to support the Milestone C decision by performing 50 hours of flight test. The first half of this flight test, he said, will include "shakedown" flights of the major systems - avionics, dynamics, handling qualities, and propulsion.
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