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Sikorsky: Flight Control Software Led To S-97 Incident

Aircraft Was Damaged August 2 On Test Flight

Sikorsky has confirmed that an issue with flight control software led to an accident that damaged an S-27 Raider helicopter on a test flight August 2.

According to the NTSB's preliminary report on the incident, the aircraft experienced a hard landing while hovering at the William P Gwinn Airport (06FA), Jupiter, Florida. Both airline transport pilots received minor injuries.

The aircraft sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was recovered from the accident site and retained for further examination.

Vertical Magazine reports that in a conference call with reporters, Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations said the company remains "fully committed" to the S-97 program. A return to flight is expected sometime in 2018.

Van Buiten cited a "complex interaction between the ground, the landing gear, the flight control system and the associated pilot interactions" as the aircraft began the flight. “In fly-by-wire helicopters, there are transitions in the flight controls that happen during the event, and in our analysis of the [hard landing], that transition didn’t go exactly as it should, and we’re making some changes to the flight control system software to accommodate that and ensure that it never happens again,” he said, according to the report.

The Sikorsky executive said that the incident was not related in any way to the X2 technology on which the helicopter is based. He said it also illustrated the crashworthiness of the aircraft's composite construction.

(Image from file)

FMI: Original Report

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