Sikorsky Aircraft announced on October 27 the successful first test flight of the US Marine Corps’ CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter prototype, known as Engineering Development Model-1 (EDM-1). The 30-minute flight signals the beginning of a 2,000-hour flight test program using four test aircraft.
“EDM-1’s first flight signifies another major milestone for the CH-53K helicopter program,” said Mike Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K program vice president. “Having independently tested the aircraft’s many components and subsystems, including integrated system level testing on the Ground Test Vehicle, we are now moving on to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program.”
Sikorsky delivered the EDM-1 into the test program at the company’s West Palm Beach, Florida-based Development Flight Center in late 2014. During its 30-minute maiden flight the EDM-1 aircraft performed hover, sideward, rearward and forward flight control inputs while in ground effect hover up to 30 feet above the ground.
As the flight test program proceeds, the EDM-1 will be joined by an additional 3 EDM aircraft to fully expand the King Stallion’s flight envelope over the course of the three-year flight-test program.
The CH-53K will maintain similar physical dimensions as its predecessor, the three-engine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, but will nearly triple the payload to 27,000 lb over 110 nautical miles under ‘high hot’ ambient conditions.
Features of the CH-53K include a modern glass cockpit, fly-by-wire flight controls, fourth-generation rotor blades with anhedral tips, a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head and upgraded engines. Other improvements have been made to external and internal cargo handling, survivability, reliability, maintainability and supportability.
The US Navy program of record is for 200 aircraft. The Marine Corps expect to stand up the first CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter squadron in 2019.
October 30, 2015