“We will build two S-97 prototypes with the first flying in under three and a half years,” said Sikorsky President Jeff Pino, talking exclusively to Rotor & Wing on the eve of the Paris Air Show. Pino believes that Sikorsky, by investing in research and development now, is preparing for the future. He doesn’t see the lack of government funding as a problem. More an opportunity as he believes that it is giving the company more freedom of scope in the development process: “We aren’t worrying about mission equipment. We are holding space, weight and power, so when it is time—perhaps 18 months from now—we will start to figure out what mission equipment will be needed because the technology will have changed by then.”
There are not only military benefits to the prototype development programs: “We are learning things with X2 and S-97 that we are backward deploying into products which will generationally look like the same, but will have benefits from that new technology.” The process is ‘comet’ like; the tails trailing innovations that can be picked up and slotted into Sikorsky’s existing portfolio where there is a good fit—while the R&D pushes further into the unknown.
For an expanded version of this story, see the August 2011 print edition of Rotor & Wing.