Report: first flight delayed for Sikorsky chopper


CH-53KA gear box issue will delay further Sikorsky Aircraft’s first flight of the CH-53K, which will now not occur until at least July according to a U.S. Navy rear admiral cited by IHS Jane’s 360.

In a potential $23 billion contract, the U.S. Marine Corps hopes to field 200 CH-53K King Stallions as replacements for its aging fleet of Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters for heavy-lift missions. Sikorsky is counting on CH-53K sales as a major contribution to revenue beginning sometime after 2020, with parent company United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) aiming to begin this year a spin off of Stratford-based Sikorsky as an independent company.

Rear Admiral Cindy Jaynes told IHS Jayne’s 360 that Sikorsky is having problems with bolts that hold the gear box together. Last December, Navy officials had tabbed a time frame between March and May for first flight of the CH-53K.

“We are looking to have a solution in place by July,” Jaynes was quoted saying at last week’s Navy League Sea-Air-Space conference in National Harbor, Md. “We will not fly until we get the gearbox fixed.”

The CH-53K is designed with twice the lift capacity of the CH-53E, with a cargo bay of sufficient size to carry a Humvee vehicle. The helicopter will use engines from the GE Aviation division of Fairfield-based General Electric (NYSE: GE).