Sikorsky Gets FAA Nod for Rig Approach

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Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of diversified business conglomerate United Technologies Corp. (UTX), recently received a green flag from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the introduction of the “Rig Approach” functionality in its S-92 helicopters to improve its efficiency and safety features. The new feature was developed in collaboration with PHI Inc. (PHII), a helicopter transportation services provider operating S-92 and S-76 helicopters of Sikorsky in the Gulf of Mexico region.

The Rig Approach offers a fully automated approach capability to pilots flying out to oil platforms and rigs and has higher safety margins than any other offshore procedure approaches in the offing. It helps to reduce the workload at critical times during the instrument arrival procedure and provides additional barriers to CFIT (controlled flight into terrain). This in turn provides offshore oil operators an easier maneuver and reduces cockpit workload by 60% from 17 pilot-initiated items to only seven.

The new feature can be retrofitted to any S-92 helicopter that is already operational. Over the years, the S-92 fleet has grown to 170 helicopters since entering service in Sep 2004, operating in diverse fields such as Head of State missions, search and rescue (SAR) operations, and transportation services for utility and airline passengers. The S-92 platform is also likely to be formally offered by Sikorsky in this summer to the U.S. Government as a replacement for the "Marine One" helicopter fleet that transports the President.

Sikorsky is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of military and commercial helicopters, and also provides aftermarket helicopter and aircraft parts and services for its parent company United Technologies. At present, major production programs at Sikorsky include the UH-60M Black Hawk medium-transport helicopters and HH-60M Medevac helicopters for the U.S. and foreign governments, the S-70 Black Hawk for foreign governments, the MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters for the U.S. Navy, the International Naval Hawk for multiple naval missions, and the S-76 and S-92 helicopters for commercial operations.

Based in Hartford, CT, United Technologies provides high-end technology products and services to the building systems and aerospace industries worldwide. The company is a diversified business conglomerate serving various end markets such as aerospace, defense and commercial construction. The business diversification allows the company to remain profitable amid tough economic times.

The operations of the company are primarily classified into two principal businesses: commercial and aerospace. Under its commercial business, the company has Otis and the UTC Climate, Controls & Security division, which combined the former Carrier and UTC Fire & Security divisions. The aerospace business of the company consists of Sikorsky aircraft and the UTC Propulsion & Aerospace Systems, which includes UTC Aerospace Systems and Pratt & Whitney divisions.

United Technologies presently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other notable companies in the industry include Crane Co. (CR) and Macquarie Infrastructure Company LLC (MIC), each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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