First S-76 With Aero Vodochody Fuselage Delivered
(Source : Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. ; issued Sept. 25, 2001)


DUXFORD, United Kingdom---Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation announced today that it has delivered the first production S-76C+ aircraft built with a fuselage completed in the Czech Republic by Aero Vodochody.

After installation of the dynamic components and flight certification at Sikorsky Aircraft, the aircraft interior was finished at the company's Completion Center partner, Keystone Helicopter Corporation, in West Chester, Penn. The corporate owner will use the VIP-configured aircraft for executive transport.

The delivery of this aircraft marks a milestone in Sikorsky's restructuring of S-76 production and completions - it is the first S-76 incorporating work performed by both Aero Vodochody and Keystone.

In 2000, Sikorsky selected Aero Vodochody as the prime supplier of S-76 airframe assemblies, and also designated Keystone as an S-76 completion center. Keystone has now accomplished the interior, paint and option installation for seven new production S-76C+ aircraft. Aero Vodochody began delivery of completed fuselages in January 2001 and has now shipped nine to Stratford. From now on, all newly delivered S-76 production aircraft will have been completed with Aero Vodochody supplied airframes.

"The S-76 fuselages received from Aero Vodochody are built with impressive quality," said Tommy Thomason, Sikorsky's vice-president for Civil Programs. "Aero Vodochody has been in the aviation business since 1919 and you can see in these fuselages the craftsmanship and expertise they've developed over the decades."

"That same commitment to quality is evident in the aircraft finished at Keystone," Thomason said. "They have a long history of exceptional service in the completion industry and they've made major investments to expand their capabilities with the S-76."

After the S-76 fuselage is delivered to Stratford, Sikorsky completes Final Assembly to include the installation of engines, transmissions and rotor systems. After checkout and flight acceptance by Sikorsky, each aircraft receives an FAA Standard Airworthiness Certificate before ferry flight to Keystone.

The S-76 has dominated the VIP marketplace for more than 20 years, providing the highest level of comfort, safety, reliability and performance of any helicopter in its class. The new production alignment with Aero Vodochody and Keystone and continued S-76 product improvements provide the basis to maintain this competitive position for another decade or more.

"We are very pleased with our choice of both Aero Vodochody and Keystone ­ their pride in workmanship and commitment to excellence matches our own high standard. The transition has gone very smoothly and on schedule, with a synergy often hoped for, but seldom achieved. Their active involvement and participation in perfecting their part of the process has resulted in detail improvements which enhance the overall quality and durability of the S-76," Thomason said.

Aero Vodochody is located near Prague in the Czech Republic and is owned by Czech bank Konsolidacni Bank, Letka, a.s., and Boeing Ceska. Boeing Ceska is a joint venture of the Boeing Company and the Czech airline CSA. Composite parts are manufactured for Aero Vodochody by its supplier, Fischer Advanced Composite Components in Ried, Austria.

The selection of Aero Vodochody culminated a worldwide search by Sikorsky for companies with the complete capabilities and processes necessary to manufacture the S-76 airframe. Since its founding in 1919, Aero Vodochody has produced more than 10,000 aircraft. Its primary current product is the L-159 light attack/trainer jet aircraft for the Czech Air Force.

Likewise, Keystone's selection was based on their long experience with the S-76 as a Sikorsky Service Center, and demonstrated technical and engineering expertise required for options integration. The FAA had also awarded Keystone Designated Alteration Station status. DAS authorization is granted to only a small number of completion and modification organizations that the FAA recognizes as having the highest standards for ensuring compliance with FAA Airworthiness and Certification requirements. After selection as the S-76 Completion Center, Keystone successfully implemented a facilities expansion to meet the unique requirements for new aircraft deliveries.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacturing and service. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation of Hartford, Conn., which provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

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