Sikorsky Celebrates First S-76 to Achieve 25,000 Flight Hours

Jun. 17, 2003 - A Sikorsky S-76A operated in airline service by Helijet International has crossed the 25,000 flight hour milestone and shows no signs of getting ready for retirement.

The aircraft was the 81st S-76 ever produced by Sikorsky, and was owned by two different corporate customers before it was acquired by Helijet in 1989. The helicopter entered service with Helijet in a 12-passenger airline configuration in January 1990 with approximately 2,300 flight hours on it. In the 162 months since, the aircraft has logged an astonishing 22,700 flight hours, or an average of just over 140 hours per month.

"We work our aircraft hard, but this S-76 has never let us down," said Morris Forchuk, director of maintenance for the Vancouver, Canada-based Helijet International. "We fly each aircraft on average 27 or 28 days per month, so we can't afford any significant downtime."

Helijet International is North America's largest scheduled helicopter airline. It operates a fleet of rotorcraft for point-to-point flights among eight destinations in British Columbia and the state of Washington. Founded in 1986, the company recently added its first fixed-wing service, with a direct nonstop connection between Campbell River Regional Airport and Seattle.
The S-76 is the mainstay of Helijet's helicopter operations. There are five S-76A model aircraft in the Helijet fleet, the youngest of which already has 17,000 flight hours. Forchuk said the aircraft are all extremely dependable, noting that the Helijet fleet averages a dispatch reliability rate in excess of 99%, despite long winter nights and frequent rain that require extensive use of Instrument Flight Rules.

"Swift, safe, reliable and comfortable transportation is what the Helijet brand means in the marketplace. The Sikorsky S-76 is an essential tool for us to maintain that reputation among our customers and the public at large," Forchuk said.

"The S-76 is a premier aircraft, but it really shines when maintained and flown by a world-class, experienced operator like Helijet," said Tommy Thomason, Sikorsky vice president, commercial programs. "This 25,000-hour milestone is a great achievement for both Sikorsky and Helijet, and I expect this aircraft will continue to lead the fleet in flight time for years to come."

Forchuk agreed. "The next scheduled maintenance we have on this aircraft is at 29,000 hours. I bet nobody ever thought anyone would ever have to do that," he said.

The current version of the S-76, the C+, offers utility and offshore operators the most rugged, reliable and efficient helicopter in its class. An uprated version of the proven S-76C helicopter, the S-76C+ combines the durable S-76 airframe with the more capable, FADEC-controlled Turbomeca Arriel 2S1 engine. The S-76C+ offers improved single-engine and hot-high performance while retaining the efficient, long-range cruise of the S-76C helicopter.

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