Sikorsky Raider, Airbus deliveries, R-44 Cadets, and Ansat tests
The second prototype Sikorsky S-97 Raider − ‘Aircraft Two’ − has completed its first flight, marking the programme’s return to flight testing following damage to the first prototype last August.
The first Raider flew on 22 May 2015 but suffered a hard landing caused by ‘issues with the flight control software’ as it performed a vertical takeoff during a flight test. The crew was unhurt but the Raider was damaged to the extent that Sikorsky decided to resume the flight test programme with the second aircraft. At the time of the accident Sikorsky was expanding the Raider’s flight envelope, having recorded over 100 hours of ground runs and twenty hours of flighttesting. During the accident flight the Raider had reached a maximum speed of 180kt, and Sikorsky had hoped that the following flight would have achieved its predicted maximum speed of over 220kt.
‘Aircraft Two’ first flew on 19 June, from Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Pilots Bill Fell and John Groth ‘flew the complete flight test card and met all of the objectives’ during the ninety-minute flight, the company reported.
Sikorsky is using the Raider programme to develop technology employed in its X2 demonstrator, such as its rigid coaxial main rotors and a variable-pitch pusher propeller, for a possible Future Vertical Lift light application for the US military. The Raider is also serving as a ‘risk reducer’ for the larger SB-1 Defiant highspeed rigid rotor coaxial craft that the company is developing with Boeing for the US Army’s Joint Multi-role Technology Demonstrator Program, in which it is competing with the Bell V-280 Valor.
“This (first flight of ‘Aircraft Two’) is a significant milestone, which allows us to proceed with our full flight test programme to demonstrate how Sikorsky’s X2 Technology is revolutionising the future of vertical lift,” said Dan Spoor, Vice-president, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift. “We look forward to demonstrating to the US military that high flight speed, and extraordinary manoeuvrability in the hover and low speed regimes, will dramatically change the way that military aviators fly and fight with helicopters.”
Sikorsky's second Raider S-97 has enabled the company to resume its flight test programme