S-64 Aircrane and CH-54 Skycrane Rotor Blade Program Passes Initial Flight Test
Erickson Incorporated and Helicopter Transport Services advanced composite main rotor blades for the S-64 Aircrane and CH-54 Skycrane have had their first flight
“The composite main rotor blade program is a great example of our team’s engineering and manufacturing breadth and depth.” said Dale Roberts, Senior Director of Plant Operations at Erickson Incorporated.
Flight testing is expected to continue for several months and certification is expected later this year.
“As a legacy aircraft services provider, we are constantly seeking ways to innovate and improve upon existing platforms to ensure these aircraft stay competitive,”
The new rotor blades are expected to significantly increase aircraft performance at high elevations and temperatures as well as increase fuel efficiency, reduce manufacturing costs and reduce maintenance costs. The rotor blade simply bolts onto the existing rotor heads of the CH54B/S64F and requires a minor main rotor head modification for the CH54A/S64E.
“Overall, we wanted to create a composite blade that would significantly improve aircraft performance, and our composite main rotor blade program includes several elements to meet that goal,” said Roberts. “Primarily, the program was designed to develop a single main rotor blade that was able to be installed on four different aircraft models: CH-54A&B and the S-64E&F.”
Erickson and HTS started the blade program in 2010 and the design was finalized in 2013.
“This is a momentous achievement for the team and we are enjoying a great partnership between our two companies,” said Mark Pilon, General Manager of HTS. “We are excited about our investment in innovating improvements for our heavy lift fleet and look forward to introducing the benefits of these blades to the market.”
Last year, Erickson completed the construction of a 12,000 square foot composite manufacturing facility in Medford, Oregon which is where the blades are being produced.