Sergei Sikorsky, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Release Date: 2011-06-22Sergei Sikorsky, now world ambassador of Sikorsky Aircraft, has been interviewed by Russianavia.net to discuss the history of Sikorsky Aircraft, its current offer and its future plans in the view of the future entry on the Russian helicopter market with "the Cadillac of helicopters".
Mr. Sikorsky, you're the only one of Igor Sikorsky's children who chose to dedicate his life to helicopters. How did your professional career develop?
I loved aviation since my childhood. My first flight was with my father when I was about 7-8 years old. After that flight, my father asked me if I liked it and I said that I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up. Professionally, I started working at the factory as a simple apprentice. Probably my father wanted me to learn aviation from the ground up. I worked as a junior mechanic on the VS-300 prototype helicopter, greasing and cleaning the machine. During World War II, I was a helicopter mechanic in a Helicopter Development Squadron, operated by the Coast Guard to test the helicopter’s military applications. After the war, I studied at the University of Florence, learning a few languages along the way.
After joining United Aircraft, I was assigned to Europe, where I started as a representative of Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Hamilton Standard, all divisions of United Aircraft. I spent some thirty years in Europe and two years in Japan on a variety of programs.
It was very interesting work, mainly a combination of selling our products, and in some cases, first selling a helicopter, then helping introduce the type into service with the military or civil customer. I retired in 1992, and now act as a consultant for Sikorsky Aircraft.
Were you acting as representative of United Technologies when you worked in Europe?
At first, the company was called United Aircraft. Then, in the 1960's, the company bought the Otis Elevator Company, and some time later, Carrier Air Conditioning. The company name was changed to reflect the fact that we were involved in a number of technologies, not all of them in aviation... hence the name United Technologies.
What is the advantage of being part of United Technologies for Sikorsky Aircraft?
Firstly, it gives us access to new technologies being developed by our partner companies. For example, Canadian Pratt & Whitney has an excellent line of smaller turbine engines for helicopters. We have access to their engine know-how and they have access to our helicopter know-how, so that we can optimize engine installations for maximum efficiency and economy.
How would you characterize the position Sikorsky Aircraft on the world helicopter market and on the U.S. market?
Sikorsky Aircraft has produced well over 3,000 BLACK HAWK helicopters for the U. S. Army and for the U.S. Navy as the SEA HAWK. Over 100 S-92 helicopters have been delivered to customers around the world. The S-92 is certified to the requirements of the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). We are working on the experimental X-2, a new-technology helicopter which has demonstrated speeds, in level flight, of 400 kilometers an hour. We are proud of the fact that the X-2 recently won the prestigious Collier Trophy, America’s highest aviation award.
In what countries does Sikorsky have licensed production?
As of today, I believe we have licensed production of Sikorsky helicopters in Poland and Japan. In the past, we have seen licensed production, or assembly, of Sikorsky helicopters in England, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. With the acquisition of PZL Mielec, Sikorsky has acquired a strategic center for the manufacture of its helicopters, as well as an established manufacturer of fixed-wing aircraft such as the
One of the big topics now is the Russian helicopter industry. Russian Helicopters have said at a recent press conference that the market for light helicopters has a very big capacity, both internationally and in Russia, and want to produce and export Russian light helicopters.
Russia has two very competent helicopter organizations, Mil and Kamov. In the past, Russian requirements were mainly focused on the medium to heavy helicopters. As a result, relatively few small, light helicopters were built. This lack of small helicopters is why foreign helicopter manufacturers such as Robinson, Bell, Agusta and Eurocopter became active in Russia. Eurocopter is selling to Tyumenavia; AgustaWestland is starting a joint venture. We, too, are studying the Russian market. The Sikorsky S-76 is a light, multi-purpose helicopter for general transportation, for off-shore oil operations, search and rescue. It is still too early to say where our niche in the Russian market will be, but I believe that we will find one.
What are the advantages of Sikorsky helicopters over other foreign helicpters?
This is a difficult question to answer. Perhaps it can best be answered by the word “reputation.” Some points to consider; for over fifty years, the American Presidents have flown in Sikorsky helicopters. The Queen of England flies in a Sikorsky helicopter. Many Heads of State around the world fly in Sikorsky helicopters. They are used by the military forces of over fifty governments around the world. Sikorsky products are used and respected around the world, and we are very proud of the reputation that the name “Sikorsky”enjoys around the world.
From the engineering viewpoint, what part of the helicopter is responsible for speed?
Many factors influence the speed of the helicopter. They include having the right sort of engines, and the aerodynamic qualities of the rotor system. Streamlining of helicopter, including main and tail rotor pylons is critical . Retractable landing gear, such as on the S-76, is also important.
Will Sikorsky Aircraft regard only sales of helicopters or also joint production in Russia?
The answer depends to a large degree on the size of the market. If the requirement is for a large number of helicopters, joint production is a distinct possibility.
Can Russian engines be installed on the S-76?
Basically, this is a decision made by the customer. The S-76 has been delivered with various models of Allison/Rolls Royce, Turbomeca and Pratt & Whitney engines.
Russian Helicopters announced plans to do an IPO on the London Stock Exchange. Do you think Sikorsky might evaluate buying shares?
I don’t know. The answer is “wait and see.”
This year, Sikorsky AIrcraft has come to Heli Russia for the first time as a participant. What changes made you change your opinion since Heli Russia 2008?
Perhaps, the main reason was that we were very busy in other markets. We were involved in a number of very important competitions in America and there were a lot of high-tech programs such as the X-2 that needed attention. We came back this year and I believe we’ll come back again.
Mr. Sikorsky, what would be your closing message to the Russian market players?
I would say that it is a challenge to sell our helicopters in Russia because there is a competent Russian helicopter industry in place as well as a number of European and American companies very active in this country. I think that we may find a niche market for one of our products and then start to grow it slowly. I remain optimistic that there is a place in Russia for Sikorsky helicopters.
|Company:||Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation|
|Country:||United States of America|