4-Jan-2012 Source: HeliHub.com
Sikorsky is anticipating FAA certification of the S-434 light turbine early this year.Â The S-434 is an improved version of the S-333 with a four-blade head and 300 more pounds in gross weight, taking the total to 2,850 pounds all up.Â Additionally it has a new tail rotor with 20% increased thrust, and structurally improved skids.Â The main rotor and transmission come from the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter that have always incorporated a batch of improvements over the S-333, which in turn implies that the R&D effort has been military-funded, at least in part.
Some S-434s are already flying in the military role, including a batch in Saudi Arabia – one of which is seen in the photo below.Â The S-434 continues to use the same turbine Rolls-Royce 205-C20W turboshaft as the S-333, rated at 320 shp.
Sikorsky has not announced whether the S-333 will stop production or whether it will continue alongside the new model.Â Expect a splash at HAI Heli-Expo 2012, but bearing in mind that only around sevety-five S333s were ever made.Â Let’s hope that the upgrades prove to be what the market was really needing, although early customers are more likely to include upgrading S333 customers such as the Police from the Texas cities of Houston and San Antonio.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com