By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Sikorsky's S-76D, the newest version in a popular line of medium-size helicopters, is now certified, the company said this week. Deliveries are expected to start early next year, to start filling a half-billion-dollar backlog of orders. The S-76D features all-composite main rotor blades as standard equipment, new integrated avionics, and Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S engines. The new model will be more efficient, more powerful, faster and quieter than earlier versions, the company said. A rotor ice protection system is available as an option.
The S-76 is used for a variety of missions including offshore support, VIP transport, search and rescue, and medical emergency services. The first S-76 model was introduced in 1979, and more than 800 have been delivered around the world. The D model has been in the works since 2005.