Several years ago Erickson was faced with a dire situation for its flagship platform, the S-64: Create more main rotor blades or eventually ground the entire S-64 fleet. The blades themselves were originally designed by Sikorsky, in the early days of helicopter development. In fact, the original blades use a NACA symmetrical airfoil, developed in the 1920s and 30s. Over time these blades wore out due to the high-demand for flight hours of the uniquely-capable heavy lifting S-64. These blades have carried heavy loads for thousands of clients in dozens of countries. They have saved countless structures from wildfire and helped build some of the most iconic structures in the world. With all of this work came the eventual retirement of the blades.
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SolutionDevelopment of composite main rotor blades (CMRBs) for legacy helicopters extends the platform’s useful life, significantly improves aircraft performance in a variety of ways, and is a very complex engineering endeavor. In 2015, Erickson wrapped up a decade long effort to develop advanced composite blades for the S-64, their flagship heavy lifting helicopter. With this, Erickson can now manufacture CMRBs for legacy helicopters, navigate the design, FAA, and manufacturing processes for very difficult projects, and is modernizing the S-64 to enable it to fly for many more years.
ERICKSON’S COMPOSITE MAIN ROTOR BLADE PROGRAM IS THE TYPE OF COMPLEX PROJECT TYPICALLY DONE ONLY AT MUCH LARGER MANUFACTURERS. OUR WORK ON THE CMRB REFLECTS A LEVEL OF SOPHISTICATION HERE AT ERICKSON THAT THE AEROSPACE AND MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES ARE BECOMING MUCH MORE AWARE OF NOW.