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HANGAR TALK operations. Sikorsky

CH-53K Helicopter Assembly Line Opens at Sikorsky Florida Facility

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. offi- cially opened a new facility at its Florida Assembly and Flight Operations (FAFO) campus, establishing experimental assembly line operations for the new CH-53K heavy lift heli- copter. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. Since 1959, United

Technologies Corporation has been in operation in Palm Beach County with Pratt &


Whitney military engine pro- grams and Sikorsky development and certification programs that have included research aircraft such as the XH-59, fly-by-wire aircraft and the UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopter. “The production of the next generation of heavy lift helicop- ter prototype is underway,” said Dennis Jarvi, vice president, Navy and Marine Corps Programs for Sikorsky. “As we commence assembly line operations at FAFO, we are witnessing the dawn of a new age in rotorcraft development and construction. The CH-53K hel-


icopter is being digitally designed and manufactured. We have created ‘virtual tools’ that will improve the learning process and identify and solve issues before they become costly delays in manufacturing. The CH-53K helicopter stands to become a model of innovative technology and capability when it takes its role in the fleet.” The CH-53K helicopter Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility consists of approximately 60,000 square feet of space. The building, originally the home of Pratt & Whitney-Rocketdyne, has been completely updated to create a modern assembly area. Overhead power and air drop- downs, new aircraft work stands, and overhead cranes have been installed to support aircraft final assembly and rotor head/quality control assembly

The state-of-the-art facility also provides wireless data con- nections to all operator plasma data screens. The new FAFO operation will introduce the use of digital operation sheets to aid in assembly and operate a four- position flight line to produce the new aircraft. “The CH-53K helicopter team has combined the new advances in technology with the learning of more than 70 years of manufacturing into a robust process that is expected to gain significant efficiencies during the build of the aircraft,” said John Johnson, CH-53K heli- copter program manager. Five System Development and Demonstration (SDD) pro- totype aircraft will be built at the FAFO facility, with two additional airframe test articles produced at Sikorsky’s main manufacturing plant in Stratford, Conn. Once assem- bled, the aircraft will be deliv- ered to the Sikorsky Development Flight Center (DFC) in West Palm Beach, Fla., to undergo flight testing. Mick Maurer, president of

Sikorsky Military Systems, said: “The Development Flight Center has been the starting point of many storied aircraft programs for Sikorsky. From building the S-76® series air- craft to testing the complex CH148 helicopter and flying the revolutionary X2 Technology™ demonstrator, the DFC has a history that will soon have a new success story to add to its resumé: the impres- sive, powerful CH-53K heli- copter.” Sikorsky Aircraft received a $3 billion System Development and

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