See the experimental Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant helicopter hit a new speed milestone
WASHINGTON - The coaxial demonstrator Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant reached a new speed record of 205 knots during a flight test on June 9, the companies said on Tuesday.
The test is an important step forward as the Sikorsky-Boeing team continues to head for a speed request of 230 knots, said Jay Macklin, Sikorsky's director for the future development of the vertical elevator business, during a round table on June 16 Reporters.
The flight, piloted by Sikorsky test pilot Bill Fell and Boeing test pilot Ed Henderscheid, took place at the Sikorsky Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
"Exceeding 200 knots is also important because it is above any conventional helicopter speed. We know that speed and low-level maneuvers are crucial for overall survivability in a future ATCO environment," said Macklin, using an acronym for future vertical lift The U.S. Army's efforts to build next-generation rotary-wing aircraft.
The Defiant is one of two rotary wing aircraft to be used as part of a competitive demonstration and risk reduction prior to the Army's future long-range assault aircraft program. The Army envisages FLRAA to replace the AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in the early 2030s.
The Defiant, a compound helicopter with coaxial rotors, will compete against Bell Helicopter's V-280 Valor tilt rotor when the FLRAA record program begins in 2022.
Fell said that during the last Defiant flight demonstration, he could reach speeds of 205 knots with less than 50 percent of the propeller power installed on the plane. "Expect a lot more in the future because we have a lot more [propeller] power for this machine," he said.
Fell added that he believes that the Defiant team will fly at top speeds - which could be over 250 knots - in "a few months", but this will depend on the speed of the ground tests with the propulsion system dynamometer. or PSTB. The Sikorsky Boeing team performs extensive tests with the PSTB to resolve potential problems on site before moving on to flight demos.
"It's a little different if you power this prop and fly through the air at 200 knots instead of static on the ground," Fell said. “We have to do some MacGyver constructions on the [propeller] stand to keep the loads in check as they are significantly higher here on the test bench without the airflow you have in flight.
"If we clear the [propeller] on the ground, it gives me the extra confidence when we're up there in flight."
The Defiant has completed 18 flight hours since its first flight in March 2018 and tested 113 hours on the PSTB. The Defiant flew over 100 knots for the first time in January.
Macklin admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic had little impact as Boeing and Sikorsky took measures to protect their employees. However, the flight test program remained largely on track, he said.
Fell added, "If we fly once a week, we're pretty happy with it, and if we fly every other week, we're happy with it." But we have to keep making progress and run the test bench. "
Jen Judson from Washington contributed to this report.
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