NEW MAIN-ROTOR BLADES THAT Carson Helicopters developed for its FireKing upgrade of the Sikorsky Aircraft H-3 Sea King are proving popular in the United Kingdom.
QinetiQ, in partnership with the U.K. Defence Ministry’s Joint Test and Evaluation Group has successfully completed a 12-month, £5.25 million ($10.3 million) Carson blades project to increase the capability of the Royal Navy Sea King HC Mk 4. The test and evaluation group’s Aircraft Test and Evaluation Center conducted it.
The U.K. work, carried out for the Sea King Integrated Project Team in support of an "urgent operational requirement," now enables the Sea King HC Mk 4 to be deployed in support of Operation HERIC in Afghanistan, providing much needed capability. The main rotor blades on the aircraft have been replaced by modified Carson composite blades (produced by Ducommun for Carson) and the tail rotor was replaced by an AgustaWestland five-bladed tail rotor system.
A rigorous and intensive series of performance evaluation and flight testing was then conducted by the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Center using a QinetiQ-owned Sea King test aircraft. These confirmed initial predictions that the new system generates up to 2000-lb increase in maximum hover mass at high altitude and enable a significant increase in the maximum forward speed.
Carson blades first came to the Defence Minstry’s attention six years ago during a Sea King maintenance symposium.