Sikorsky unveils $20 million CH-53K helicopter Precision Components Technology Center

Posted by Courtney Howard

STRATFORD, Conn., 25 Jan. 2010. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., has opened its new Precision Components Technology Center, which will manufacture CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter components.

The center will produce major dynamic components of the CH-53K helicopter, such as rotating and stationary swashplates, main and tail rotor hubs, and main rotor sleeves. It will showcase the magnitude of the CH-53K helicopter and the unique production challenges presented by its size and technological complexity, says a company representative. Forgings to be machined in the center, for example, will be twice the size of the largest forging produced at the facility to date.

Of UTC's total investment of $130 million in the program, Sikorsky has committed more than $20 million to the Precision Components Technology Center.

"Sikorsky's investment in this new technology center is further evidence of the company's commitment to the CH-53K helicopter program," says Mark Cherry, vice president, Marine Corps Programs. "The heavy-lift mission is critical; the size and complexity of the CH-53K helicopter's critical parts necessitated a center dedicated to its production and design iterations as we continue on our path to first flight. We expect the technology center to leverage a number of the manufacturing improvements incorporated in the development of this aircraft, including identifying critical part characteristics to align with manufacturing process capability."

The Precision Components Technology Center was designed to allow the development of new product lines with "zero setup time" and quick changeover from one component to another. The equipment in the center has the capability to produce any precision rotor and drive system dynamic component, including legacy configurations.

Mick Maurer, senior vice president of Sikorsky Operations, said the center's primary focus will be to support the dynamic components of the CH-53K System Development and Demonstration program, but the facility also was created with an eye toward the future.

"The grand opening of the Precision Components Technology Center marks a significant program milestone that demonstrates our commitment to the U.S. Marine Corps and the development of the next generation CH-53K heavy lift helicopter. As we expand our global footprint, Sikorsky continues to invest in state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities that offer a unique competitive advantage in the advancement of flight-critical dynamic component technologies," Maurer says.

Features of the CH-53K helicopter include: a joint interoperable glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and reduced operation and support costs.

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