Sikorsky Aircraft is an American aircraft manufacturer based in Stratford, Connecticut. It was established by Russian–American aviator Igor Sikorsky in 1923 and was among the first companies to manufacture helicopters for civilian and military use.
Igor Sikorsky was a profound aviation pioneer in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. After immigrating to the United States in 1919, Sikorsky founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923, and developed the first of Pan American Airways’ ocean-crossing flying boats in the 1930s.
One of Sikorsky’s earliest recollections is of his mother telling him of Leonardo da Vinci’s attempts to design a flying machine. From that moment on the dream of flight captured his imagination, even though he was repeatedly told that flying had been proven impossible. Finally, at the age of about 12, Sikorsky made a model of a crude helicopter. Powered by rubber bands, the model rose into the air. Now he knew that his dream was not a foolhardy impossibility. Sure, Leonardo da Vinci made early drawings of a vertical flying machine, but that was in the 1480s. And kids had been playing with hand-turned, propeller-driven toys for centuries before that.
Today, Sikorsky’s name is synonymous with the successful development of three important types of modern aircraft: the large four-engine airplane, the giant flying boat, and the unique and versatile helicopter, each of which has played a vital role in the development of aviation.
Educated as an engineer and designer, Sikorsky developed an interest in man-powered flight in his youth. He was fascinated by the work done up to that point by the Wright Brothers and by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. After graduating from the Petrograd Naval College, he traveled to Europe to study engineering and aviation in Paris. In 1907, he went home to Kiev where he completed his studies at the Mechanical Engineering College of the Polytechnical Institute. Sikorsky drew his earliest concept drawings of a helicopter years before the Wright brothers ever flew at Kitty Hawk.
Sikorsky continued to dream of building a successful helicopter. He had never stopped jotting down his design ideas. He had even patented some of them. In 1939, he achieved his goal. He completed the VS-300, piloting the craft himself during its first flight that summer. The VS-300 would later be known as the United States’ first successful helicopter and served as the model for all single-rotor helicopters by 1940. One of the most significant design details in Sikorsky’s helicopter was its use of a tail rotor to provide thrust in the opposite direction of the torque created by the top rotor. This model was the first that did not require two counter-rotating rotors to cancel out the torque. Sikorsky’s innovative design made the craft lighter, simpler, and easier to control.
On October 26, 1972, aviation pioneer Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky died at his home in Easton. Founder of the Sikorsky Aviation Corporation, Sikorsky moved the company to Stratford in 1929, and established it as a major player in aviation design with the twin-engined S-38 amphibian aircraft. The S-38 enabled Pan American Airways to open air routes into South America and the Caribbean that paved the way for the development of commercial air travel. A gifted aeronautical engineer and determined to solve the problem of vertical flight, Sikorsky is credited with designing the world’s first practical single-rotor VS-300 helicopter in 1939, the basis for the later XR-4 design that was the first successfully mass produced military helicopter and an invaluable tool in search, rescue, and supply missions. Always the pioneer, Sikorsky insisted that he fly the trial flight of any new design himself, and his company captured many world aviation records including the first flight over the Andes Mountains, the first trans-oceanic air service, the longest-range commercial aircraft, and numerous altitude records.
Flash forward to the present and Sikorsky’s old company, now part of Lockheed Martin, still produces helicopters. Sikorsky’s successor companies, then part of United Aircraft Corp, even designed the short-lived (1968 -1976) Turbotrain, powered by a Pratt & Whitney turbine “jet engine.” The train could make the 230-mile New York-to-Boston run in 3 hours, 39 minutes. Today’s Acela can do the same run in no less than 3 hours, 55 minutes.
After emigrating to the U.S. in 1919, aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky founded Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation in New York in 1923, then moved the company to Stratford, Connecticut, in 1925. It became part of the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, later United Technologies Corporation, in 1929 and remained in the UTC portfolio until Lockheed Martin purchased Sikorsky in 2015 for $9 billion.
More than a century after Sikorsky first dreamt of flying as a boy, his innovations continue to influence the world of flight. In 1944 he predicted his inventions would be “far surpassed by other larger, faster and more luxurious flying vessels, that will cross continents and oceans, tropical and polar regions, with remarkable efficiency, comfort and regularity.” But he continued, “Nevertheless, as they fly the long transoceanic airways or make the short local flights, they will be following many of the routes which were originally pioneered and opened for peaceful air travel by the flying Clippers or the direct lift aircraft of the Winged-S.”
Much has changed in aviation in the last 80 years since Sikorsky’s first helicopter took to the air. And to think, it all started in Connecticut with a Russian American.
A helicopter goes nowhere without an engine. The engine produces power that the helicopter uses in flight. Sikorsky helicopters were the first to switch, from gasoline engines to gas turbine engines.
Today the Sikorsky Helicopters are powered by several different helicopters. The helicopter engines can be grouped into 3 main categories: Military Helicopters, Civilian Helicopters and Experimental Helicopters. Current turboshaft and turboprop engines in the T700/CT7 family power 24 types of civil and military helicopters, regional airliners, military transports and multipurpose aircraft throughout the world. To date, 11,000 T700/CT7 engines have accumulated more than 30 million flight hours powering more than 4,000 aircraft, often in extreme environments, while maintaining a reputation for outstanding reliability. Wikipedia states that a turboshaft engine is a form of gas turbine that is optimized to produce shaftpower rather than jet thrust. In concept, turboshaft engines are very similar to turbojets, with additional turbine expansion to extract heat energy from the exhaust and convert it into output shaft power. They are even more similar to turboprops, with only minor differences, and a single engine is often sold in both forms.
To list just a few of the Helicopter Engines:
Rolls-Royce (Allison) 250-C30 turboshaft engines
Turbomeca Arriel 1S turboshaft engines
Turbomeca Arriel 1S1 turboshaft engines
Pratt & Whitney Canada Helicopter Engines:
PW206B2 for use with Eurocopter EC135
PW206C for use with Agusta A109 Power
Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-36B turboshaft engines
Turbomeca Arriel 1S1 turboshaft engines
Turbomeca Arriel 2S1
Turbomeca Arriel 2S2
Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S Engine
GE Aviation T700 Engine
GE Aviation CT7 Engine
GE Aviation T700-701D Engine
GE Aviation T700-401C
GE Aviation 701C Engine
GE Aviation T700 Helicopter Engine
GE Aviation T6A Engine
GE Aviation T700/-701K Engine
Tail rotors may also have an intermediate gearbox to turn the power up a pylon or vertical fin. Reciprocating engines, also called piston engines, are generally used in smaller helicopters. Most training helicopters use reciprocating engines because they are relatively simple and inexpensive to operate. All helicopters require regular maintenance including oil changes, engine washing and under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), you need an annual and the recommendations of the manufacturer. If you are flying under FAR Part 135, the maintenance schedule is quite a bit more extensive including borescope for helicopter engine. In addition, you may have to perform a visual gear box inspection.
The Sikorsky Aircraft Company sets the bar for military and civilian helicopter performance and operations. Sikorsky helicopters serve rescue missions, firefighters, offshore oil and gas platforms, construction, Life-Flight operations, and much more.