Sikorsky has commenced full system testing of its CH-53K heavy lift helicopter ground test vehicle with all seven main rotor blades and four tail rotor blades attached.
The tests follow the previous ‘light off’ and ‘bare head’ test phases which saw the aircraft’s engines started and gearbox engaged for the first time, and is the start of a two-year test program of the GTV’s entire dynamic component system.
“This is another key milestone in our building block approach to maturing the aircraft system,” Sikorsky’s CH-53K Program vice president, Mike Torok said in a statement. “The aircraft is now fully configured to proceed to the next series of system integration tests that will further validate the aircraft systems, such as rotors, drive, electrical, hydraulic, avionics and flight controls – all leading to operational acceptance testing that will clear the flight aircraft for flight operations.”
Sikorsky expects to commence a 2,000 hour flight test campaign in late 2014. The 39,916 kg MTOW CH-53K will replace the US Marine Corps’ fleet of CH-53Es in service from 2017.