The Raider's First Flight

  • May 25, 2015 8:50pm GMT
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The Sikorsky S-97 Raider high-speed helicopter's first flight lasted for an hour on May 22. The flight took place at the company’s West Palm Beach development flight center in Florida.

The rigid coaxial-rotor helicoptered hovered and maneuvered at low speed, with its pusher propulsor disconnected but due to friction it was turning. This starts a 100 hour, one year test program to meet Sikorsky’s targets of a 220-kt cruise speed while carrying weapons, a 95 degree F hover at 6,000 ft, and 3g maneuverability at speed.

Video Below: Sikorsky: "Our S-97 RAIDER™ helicopter successfully achieved its first flight at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla today! Congratulations to Chief Pilot Bill Fell, Co-pilot Kevin Bredenbeck and the entire RAIDER team."

Press Release

West Palm Beach, Florida - WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, May 22, 2015 – Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary (NYSE: UTX), today announced the successful first flight of the S-97 RAIDER™ helicopter, a rigid coaxial rotor prototype designed to demonstrate a game-changing combination of maneuverability, hover ability, range, speed, endurance and survivability. The first flight was conducted at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center (DFC) where the two-prototype RAIDER™ helicopter test program is based.

“Sikorsky has a long tradition of pioneering new aviation technologies including the first practical helicopter. Today’s first flight of the S-97 RAIDER represents the latest leap forward for Sikorsky, our customers, and the rotorcraft industry,” said Sikorsky President Bob Leduc. “The industry has demanded high performance and high value from the products that execute critical missions, and, today, the RAIDER helicopter has given us an exciting look at the future of vertical flight.”

During the first test flight, which lasted approximately one hour, RAIDER Pilot Bill Fell and Co-Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck took the aircraft through a series of maneuvers designed to test the aircraft’s hover and low-speed capability. With first flight achieved, the RAIDER helicopter now moves into more progressive flight testing to demonstrate key performance parameters critical to future combat operations including armed reconnaissance, light assault, light attack and special operations.

The RAIDER helicopter program is part of the portfolio of Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development organization within Sikorsky Aircraft’s Research & Engineering division. “It is the Sikorsky Innovations charter to identify the toughest challenges in vertical flight, and to demonstrate solutions to them,” said Mark Miller, Vice President of Research & Engineering. “Getting an all-new aircraft into flight, especially one with game-changing capabilities, is a remarkable feat. With this first flight of the S-97 RAIDER helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft is proving once again that the tough challenges will always propel us forward.”