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Sikorsky Sees 100-Commuter Copter by 2000

From Times Wire Services

Sikorsky Aircraft is studying the feasibility of building civilian helicopters capable of carrying up to 100 people on short- and medium-range flights, the company announced.

The new helicopters would be introduced around the turn of the century and could help ease growing problems with urban transportation and airport congestion, officials said Saturday.

Sikorsky, which bills itself as the world’s leading manufacturer of helicopters, said the rotary-wing aircraft would be capable of carrying up to 100 people on short- and medium-range flights at speeds of 150 m.p.h.

Robert Kelly, the company’s director of commercial marketing, said military helicopters already are able to easily transport 20,000 pounds at good speeds. “That could equate to 100 passengers and lots of reserves, if that should turn out to be the optimum,” he said.

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The feasibility study grew out of research that has been going on at Sikorsky for the past 20 years, Kelly said.

Because the new helicopter would be introduced at the turn of the century, the project has been dubbed “Project S-2K for Sikorsky 2000,” Kelly said.

Company officials said they needed to complete market and risk analysis before the new aircraft “could begin to take the form of an operating vehicle.”

Sikorsky noted that the Federal Aviation Administration has estimated that airport congestion will become a critical problem nationwide by the year 2000. Similar projections also have been made for Europe and Japan. Japan has expressed interest in the project, officials said.

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Sikorsky already does business with Japan and on Friday turned over the first of six mine-sweeper helicopters for use by the Japanese Defense Agency.

The mine-sweeper helicopters are similar to the U.S. Navy’s MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters.

Sikorsky, primarily a defense contractor, is a leading manufacturer of military helicopters, including the Black Hawk and the Seahawk, which are produced for the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.

Sikorsky, based in Stratford, is a division of United Technologies Corp., which is based in Hartford.

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