STRATFORD, Conn., Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Sikorsky Aircraft has successfully completed the initial phase of testing for the first-ever main and tail rotor blades manufactured for the U.S. Marine Corps' CH-53K heavy lift helicopter program. Designed specially to help meet the Marine Corps requirement to lift the aircraft's maximum gross weight of 88,000 pounds, the all-composite blades are the largest and most technologically advanced ever produced by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
"These new blades are an important feature of the CH-53K helicopter's ability to lift almost three times the payload compared to the CH-53E Super Stallion™ aircraft it will replace later this decade," said Mike Torok Sikorsky's CH-53K Program Vice President. "Advanced geometric shaping, high strength composite materials and a flaw tolerant design all come into play to provide unmatched performance, reliability, and survivability."
At 35 feet span length, and almost three feet chord width, the CH-53K main rotor blade has 12 percent more surface area than the CH-53E blade. A 4 th generation aerodynamic design developed by Sikorsky adds unique airfoils, twist and taper to the new blade so as to accommodate 71 percent greater power generated by the CH-53K aircraft's three 7,500-shaft-horsepower GE38-1B engines.Included in the span length is an advanced blade tip to improve hover performance, and a composite cuff attachment feature that will allow maintainers to quickly attach each of the seven CH-53K blades directly to an elastomerically-articulated titanium rotor head without the need for specialized tools or multiple redundant fasteners. When attached to the nearly nine-foot-diameter main rotor hub, the blade radius extends to 39.5 feet. The four 10 ft. long CH-53K tail rotor blades have 15 percent more surface area compared to the same tail rotor blades on the CH-53E helicopter. On the CH-53K aircraft, the tail rotor blades collectively produce as much thrust as the main rotor blades on Sikorsky's 11,000-pound S-76™ helicopter.