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Sikorsky’s X2 Demonstrator First Flight

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August 28, 2008

Sikorsky’s X2 Demonstrator First Flight

Sikorsky’s X2 Demonstrator First Flight

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August 28, 2008 Three years ago we wrote of Sikorsky’s intention to build a technology demonstrator for its X2 Coaxial helicopter technology, and earlier this year we expanded on the principals of the revolutionary aircraft. Today, we’re pleased to announce “it flies.” Earlier this week, Sikorsky successfully completed the first flight of its X2 Demonstrator, maneuvering the prototype aircraft through hover, forward flight, and a hover turn, in a test flight that lasted approximately 30 minutes.

Sikorsky Chief Test Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck conducted the test flight at Sikorsky’s Schweizer Aircraft Corp. rapid-prototyping facility in Horseheads, N.Y. The milestone culminated more than four years of design, development and testing of the Demonstrator aircraft’s suite of technologies that are intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter.

“Today’s achievement is the result of dedicated effort by the entire X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator Program Team,” said James Kagdis, Program Manager, Advanced Programs. ”It is proof of the complete commitment by Sikorsky Aircraft to this program and to the exploration of innovation in aviation. We look forward to expanding the flight envelope for this Demonstrator and will continue to conduct market analysis to determine the next steps for this important program.”

The X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator is designed to establish that a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 knots, while retaining such desirable helicopter attributes as excellent low speed handling, efficient hovering, and safe autorotation, combined with a seamless and simple transition to high speed.

Sikorsky President Jeffrey P. Pino said the successful first flight attests to the company’s commitment to excellence and to industry-leading innovation.

“X2 TECHNOLOGY has crossed a major threshold,” Pino said. “The team’s achievement sets the stage for the next series of tests eventually leading to maximum speed. It also sparks the imagination for what ultimately the technology can mean to the future of the rotorcraft industry. We are far from having a product, but closer than ever to realizing the potential.”

Among the innovative technologies the X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator employs are:

    Fly-by-wire flight controls Counter-rotating, all-composite rigid rotor blades Hub drag reduction Active vibration control Integrated auxiliary propulsion system

Sikorsky Aircraft first announced the initiative to develop an integrated suite of technologies called X2 TECHNOLOGY in June 2005. The project is funded solely by Sikorsky. The X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator Program Manager is Steve Chisarik, and Director of Engineering Sciences for Sikorsky is Steve Weiner.

Key suppliers for the X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator are:

    Eagle Aviation Technologies, Inc.: Main rotor blades, miscellaneous composite hardware Goodrich Corporation: SmartProbe air data system and engineering support Hamilton Sundstrand Corp.: Flight Control Computers, Active vibration control, engineering support LHTEC (Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company, a partnership between Rolls-Royce/Honeywell): Engines, engineering support Moog, Inc.: Active vibration actuation, Consignment MU/EU components, engineering support

Announced in June 2005 at the AHS Forum, Sikorsky began developing the X2 TECHNOLOGY™, Demonstrator intended to advance the state-of-the-art of counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopters. In its high speed configuration, X2 TECHNOLOGY takes advantage of the full potential lift of a rigid coaxial rotor and auxiliary propulsion to enable a helicopter to cruise comfortably at 250 knots.

This means the full spectrum of performance desired in a helicopter can be achieved -- excellent low speed handling, efficient hovering and autorotation safety combined with seamless and simple transition to high speed and excellent maneuverability. In its conventional helicopter speed configuration, X2 TECHNOLOGY™ provides improved lift through the efficiency of its coaxial rotor, eliminating the need for a tail rotor.

To demonstrate the viability of X2 TECHNOLOGY™, Sikorsky has built an X2 TECHNOLOGY™ Demonstrator with its subsidiary, Schweizer Aircraft in Elmira, N.Y. This aircraft is designed to demonstrate 250 knots cruise capability in a helicopter.

X2 TECHNOLOGY aircraft will hover, land vertically, maneuver at low speeds, and transition seamlessly from hover to forward flight like a helicopter. In a high speed configuration, a “pusher prop” is part of an integrated auxiliary propulsion system to enable high speeds with no need to physically reconfigure the aircraft in flight.

Sikorsky’s X2 TECHNOLOGY™ Demonstrator has made steady and significant progress since its announcement in June 2005. In November 2005, a surrogate helicopter equipped with the new X2 TECHNOLOGY™ fly-by-wire system made its first flight. The Schweizer 333 helicopter performed flawlessly while demonstrating basic capabilities of the fly-by-wire system. In November 2006, ground tests of the X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator aircraft began with its LHTEC T800 engine and drivetrain components.

In May 2008 the program successfully ground tested the aircraft with rotor blades installed and spinning for the first time. On Aug. 27, 2008, the program achieved first flight in a test conducted by Chief Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck at the Schweizer facility.

A dedicated team of highly experienced aviation professionals worked on and contributed to the X2 TECHNOLOGY™ Demonstrator development, design and build.

Among the key contributors are:

Kevin L. Bredenbeck Director, Test & Evaluation Chief Test Pilot

Bredenbeck is responsible for the global oversight of the Sikorsky Flight Office, Flight Operations, Test Engineering and the Development Flight Center (DFC). Bredenbeck’s charter is to provide the leadership and oversight ensuring that Sikorsky continues its outstanding flight test development safety record across global operations, including definition and implementation of processes and procedures that guarantee that success.

Since joining Sikorsky Aircraft in May of 1994, Bredenbeck has performed in a variety of assignments and been instrumental in developing new technologies for the various production models and the test flying on numerous growth and development programs.

Bredenbeck currently is responsible for test teams conducting six ongoing development programs at Sikorsky: the Fly-By-Wire (FBW) H-92, the FBW U.S. Army UH-60MU BLACK HAWK, the Singapore MH-60 Seahawk, the S-76D, the FBW U.S. Marine Corp CH-53K Super Stallion and the FBW X2 composite high speed demonstrator helicopter, with which he has been involved since its inception in 2004.

Prior to joining Sikorsky Aircraft, Bredenbeck was an officer in the U.S. Army, where his responsibilities ranged from aviation maintenance and contracts, to aero-medical combat operations. Prior to the Army, he was an engineer with Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, Connecticut and an engineer with United Space Boosters Incorporated, Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

He has flown more than 24 different fixed-wing and more than 35 different rotary-wing types including all Sikorsky series production aircraft. Both military and civilian has accumulated more than 6,000 total safe flying hours rotary wing and fixed wing in all environments; domestic, international, test and combat. Bredenbeck has received numerous decorations and awards for aviation safety, performance, and combat service and set an NAA world record in the S-70.

Steven D. Weiner Director, Engineering Sciences Chief Engineer, X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator

Steve Weiner joined Sikorsky in 1978 as a Flight Test engineer on the S-76 certification program. After joining Sikorsky’s Aerodynamics group in 1980, he was responsible for the aerodynamic performance of the S-75 ACAP. In 1981 he was assigned to the New Product Development group as the resident aerodynamics engineer, where he was part of the team that developed the LHX. Weiner was the System Engineer for the S-76 Fantail Demonstrator development team, which was instrumental in helping Sikorsky win the RAH-66 program. Weiner supported the RAH-66 Comanche program for 19 years, initially as Aerodynamicist and later as Technology Manager. In 2001, he was asked to form the Chief System Engineer’s group.

In 2003, Weiner helped form and lead the New Concepts group in the development of the X2 Technology Demonstrator and related concepts. Weiner has been a primary proponent of X2 Technology as a key to expanding Sikorsky’s technological leadership in the rotorcraft industry and as a means to develop new engineering talent. He has been the technical lead of the program since its inception. In 2005, Weiner was also appointed Director of Engineering Sciences, with responsibility for the primary aeromechanics, mass properties and observables attributes of Sikorsky’s current and future products.

James Kagdis Program Manager,Advanced Programs Technology & Innovations Research and Engineering

Kagdis is responsible for leading Sikorsky Aircraft’s CR&D and IR&D activities. Included in this broad portfolio is the X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator program. Program highlights include designing, developing, manufacturing and flight testing a counter-rotating, co-axial main rotor helicopter. This technology offers the promises of 250kts cruise speed while maintaining helicopter like maneuverability, agility and hover characteristics at low speed.

Joining Sikorsky Aircraft in 1981 in Stratford, CT, Kagdis initially was assigned to the Research and Engineering division. In 1984, he became the Business Development Representative for the Sikorsky Aircraft Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX, now the Army’s RAH-66 Comanche) Program. He held various assignments on the Comanche program, including serving as the Director of the Joint Boeing Sikorsky business development effort in the Joint Program Office and the Washington, D.C. Liaison Office. He has also served as the Director, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Government Business Development, Sikorsky Aircraft, where he was responsible for current business perpetuation and future requirements development. Prior to his current assignment, Kagdis was responsible for Advanced Program Government Business Development.

Stephen J. Chisarik Program Manager- X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator Chief Engineer- Military Derivatives Completion Center (MDCC)

Steve Chisarik joined Sikorsky in 1987 as a college co-op in the Avionics System Center (ASC) as an electrical assembler. Chisarik held various positions during his 11-years as an hourly employee, having participated in two Sikorsky- sponsored rotation programs, the Machine Technician Apprenticeship and the Helicopter Mechanics School. In 1998, Chisarik joined the Manufacturing Engineering organization supporting Naval Hawk and BLACK HAWK Final Assembly. Since that time, Chisarik has held positions of increasing responsibility within the Engineering organization, most recently as the Program Lead Engineer for US Air Force and Israeli Air Force (H60/H53) Programs.

In 2006, Chisarik was selected to lead the X2 TECHNOLOGY Demonstrator development program team in the completion of the airframe and system design, fabrication and assembly leading to successful ground testing and flight test of the aircraft. Chisarik provided the onsite “hands on” leadership at the Schweizer facility to prioritize the manufacturing, engineering and procurement activities.

In addition to his current responsibilities to the X2 Program, Chisarik was also selected to lead the development of the Military Derivatives Completion Center (MDCC) Engineering Team as the Chief Engineer supporting the final assembly of S70B Naval Hawks and BLACK HAWK modification completions.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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