The tour began with a walk through the machining center. Of course, photography was not permitted so I'll have to illustrate with some photos harvested from the web.
Sikorsky doesn't do a great deal of part manufacturing in Stratford; most of the bits come in from sub-contractors. But a number of critical items -- like gearbox housings, many gears, rotor heads, rotor cuffs, and some rotor blades -- remain in-house. The finished parts are truly beautiful objects -- jewelry for a giant.
These aircraft have been Sikorsky's mainstay programs for many years. In 2009, the firm delivered about 140 "Hawk" variants. They have ongoing construction contracts, and programs are in development to upgrade earlier models to late-model configuration.
The S-92 is Sikorsky's commercial workhorse. The program's high-time airframe now has about 7,000 hours and they are holding up very well. They thrive in roles such as offshore platform re-supply where they endure adverse conditions and fly many hours every day.
We moved on to the fixed-base simulator where we saw the result of a program to address the hazard of "brown-out" when landing in dusty environments. The system uses a combination of inputs from millimeter-band radar and radar altimetry to generate a synthetic vision display of exceptional fidelity. If needed, it offers autoland capability in zero/zero conditions. As we watched its operation from the sim's observation platform the sensation of motion was uncanny, even though we knew the platform was welded down.
We wound up our tour with a short video presentation describing the leading edge X2 Technology. This aircraft incorporates coaxial contra-rotating rigid rotors and a pusher propeller and it is expected to achieve a speed of 250 knots.
All of us were very grateful to the Sikorsky Aircraft employees who volunteered their time so that a group of local General Aviation pilots could see what they are up to on the banks of the Housatonic River. We were highly impressed!