Sikorsky S-76 production to move to India?

Sikorsky S-76 production to move to India?

31-Oct-2022 Source: HeliHub.com

Lockheed Martin are reportedly in talks with the Indian conglomerate Tata to move the S-76 production line to the subcontinent. Whether this represents a sale of the production rights or subcontracted manufacture is currently unclear.

Following the end of the S-76C++ production in 2011, Sikorsky continued with the later S-76D model but sales have been very disappointing. The OEM is believed to have not manufactured a helicopter from this line for about seven years, and helicopters carrying later “production dates” were mostly built by 2015 and then sat as “white tails” until a customer came along. The date of manufacture is often set as the date the aircraft is handed over to the customer.

Today, there are at least a couple of 2014-built S-76D airframes for sale in the open market with under 25 hours total time on the airframe.  Additionally, an early offshore support 2013 airframe is for sale with under 1900 hours, suggesting very low usage averaging 220 hours a year. In the whole of Europe – a significant part of our global industry – there is just one S-76D.

Tata is an experienced substructure and component manufacturer in the aerospace industry, working with OEMs including Boeing and Bell. They have had a joint venture company Tata Sikorsky Aerospace Ltd in Hyderabad for over 10 years which has been focusing on parts for the larger S92.

The Indian Government is reportedly included in discussions, and a successful agreement between Tata and Sikorsky parent Lockheed Martin would be one of the largest in the history of aircraft manufacture in India.

However, the very existence of discussions also casts questions over Lockheed Martin’s commitment to the civil helicopter market. While both the S-76 and S-92 have marked up some government and military sales over the years, they only account for under 5% and 20% of the production to date respectively. Lockheed Martin’s purchase of Sikorsky in 2015 was widely seen as a purchase of the rights to the Black Hawk, making these two civilian helicopter types “surplus to requirements” if they wanted to continue their focus on military work.

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