STRATFORD, Conn., May 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. today announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a new functionality on the S-92® helicopter to provide offshore oil operators with an automated approach that reduces cockpit workload by 60 percent and allows safer operations under challenging weather and operating conditions. Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), developed the new safety feature in close collaboration with PHI, Inc., an important Sikorsky customer that is operating S-92 and S-76 ® helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico, providing transportation to offshore oil workers to the platforms there.
"Rig Approach" will be available as an option on the S-92 helicopters, providing a fully coupled and automated approach capability with a higher safety margin than currently is available with any other offshore approach procedure. The feature can be retrofitted to aircraft already operating.
"Our new Rig Approach feature takes the guesswork out of the equation when a pilot is flying out to an oil platform. It provides a 'hands off' approach that increases the safety of the aircraft tremendously. Sikorsky continues to hold safety as its highest priority, and we are excited to bring Rig Approach to our customers," said Dan Hunter, Sikorsky's Commercial Programs Director.FAA officials flew in February for the certification review. That flight was the culmination of several years of development which began in 2007 when a pilot from PHI Inc. approached a Sikorsky pilot about collaborating to develop a safer method of approaching oil platforms and rigs. Sikorsky conducted the bulk of its certification flight testing in 2011 and followed that with a year of working with the FAA to provide a path for certification.