The approval follows previous certification of the system in 2007 by the European Aviation Safety Agency, which is the regulatory agency for the European Union, and now allows S-92 SAR operators in the U.S. to use the technology as well. Also, since Transport Canada generally accepts FAA policy, approval for use by S-92 SAR operators in Canada is expected to follow.
The Search and Rescue Automatic Flight Control System (SAR AFCS) integrates weather radar, thermal imaging and search sensors to provide the ability for a search and rescue crew to fly to a geographic waypoint, engage the automatic hover feature, and focus on bringing survivors safely onboard using the aircraft’s rescue hoist. The system enables automatic search patterns, lock-on capability once the target is located, and steady hover control for the rescue – all functions that greatly reduce crew workload and increase the likelihood of successful rescues in challenging weather conditions.
“The S-92 helicopter has distinguished itself as the premier search and rescue aircraft while operating the past several years for the U.K. Maritime Coastguard Agency,” said Carey Bond, president of Sikorsky Global Helicopters. “This system increases the margin of safety and success in performing the more difficult rescues that are complicated by tempestuous weather. Sikorsky has a long legacy of providing life-saving rotorcraft technology, and we remain committed to continually doing so.”
In addition to search and rescue, S-92 helicopters perform a variety of transportation missions for VIPs including Heads of State, offshore oil and gas crews, utility and airline passengers. The worldwide fleet of 132 S-92 helicopters has accumulated more than 295,000 flight hours since deliveries began in 2004.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. Sikorsky Global Helicopters, a Sikorsky company, develops and produces civil certified helicopters and their derivatives. Its portfolio includes the S-76®, S-92® and H-92™ helicopters as well as the S-300C™, S-300 CBi™, S-333™ and S-434™ light helicopters. Also part of Sikorsky Global helicopters is Associated Aircraft Group (AAG), a provider of charter and fractional ownership services.
United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems.