Today, we review the Boeing Future Heavy Lift Helicopter, boeing commercial helicopter and the best boeing helicopters. As the lead providers of Attack, Assault, and Heavy Lift Helicopters for the Department of Defense and with a proven track record and a demonstrated ability to exceed customer requirements for those missions with these programs of record, Boeing and Sikorsky have joined forces to develop the SB>1 DEFIANT™ for the DoD.
Defiant is a fully integrated aircraft that represents an evolution of the military’s most capable platforms. Designed for the Army’s attack and assault missions as well as the Marine Corps long-range transportation, infiltration and resupply missions, the SB>1 DEFIANT™ is uniquely suited to provide the warfighter with unmatched capabilities for the U.S. Military’s various missions.
Sikorsky and Boeing have designed the SB>1 DEFIANT™ to provide the right combination of speed, lift and range that are paramount to both the assault and attack missions while increasing overall maneuverability and agility. Developed with 85 percent commonality between attack and assault aircraft, the SB>1 DEFIANT™ will reduce development and life-cycle costs and ensure minimal disruption or loss of existing rotorcraft expertise. Its open mission systems architecture allows rapid technology and capability insertion to meet evolving FVL requirements and provide the U.S. Military with evolutionary sustainability, affordability and readiness for years to come.
The aircraft’s capabilities are largely derived from the X2 rigid co-axial rotor system which has already proven its airworthiness through flights of the X2 and S-97 Raider. With two coaxial rotors on top that rotate in opposite directions, the extra lift from each rotor’s advancing blade balances out the diminished lift from the opposite side’s retreating blade to eliminate retreating blade stall. To provide the raw forward thrust for fast flight, the back of the SB>1 DEFIANT™ mounts a pusher propulsor, allowing the aircraft to fly twice as fast and twice as far as today’s conventional helicopter while increasing the overall maneuverability and agility required for specific mission objectives. This additional flight component also provides unique and unmatched maneuverability in all flight regimes including hover, low-speed flight and high-speed flight.
The perfect paradigm for upgradability and survivability in an open architecture environment, the SB>1 DEFIANT™ is ready to serve the U.S. Military for decades to come.
X2 Rotor System: A rigid, co-axial rotor system with pusher propulsor that provides improved mission objective capability, reduced wear on parts and systems, increased reliability and lower total lifecycle costs
Maneuverability and Agility: Improved agility and flight control augmentation allow tight assault formations with close proximity landings to deliver embarked troops as a cohesive unit and minimize exposure to hostile threats
Speed and Range: Twice the speed and distance of today’s conventional helicopters while increasing the overall maneuverability and agility needed for the US Military’s various missions
Survivability: Propulsor thrust coupled with large angular rates and precision attitude control enable the SB>1 DEFIANT™ to rapidly and precisely displace the aircraft position or flight path in response to threats or evolving tactical environments
Lethality: Rapid and precise acquisition of targets and prolonged engagement windows
Deployability: When folded for shipboard stowage, the SB>1 DEFIANT™ fits the footprint of a folded AH-1
Boeing Future Heavy Lift Helicopter
Boeing and Lockheed Martin are competing to supply a new generation of heavy lift helicopters to two of America’s most important allies.
The allies are Germany and Israel, which both have an urgent need to replace fleets of CH-53D helicopters that have grown decrepit with age. The helicopters were built by Connecticut-based Sikorsky long before it became a part of Lockheed Martin.
That makes Lockheed Martin the incumbent supplier of heavy lift helicopters to both countries, and simply on that basis you would expect Lockheed to have an advantage in the competition.
Military aircraft that have been operating for many years tend to develop a constituency in their home services that prefers sticking with what it knows, so Lockheed Martin has a shot at selling a much improved “K” variant of CH-53 called King Stallion to both Germany and Israel.
The German solicitation alone is worth many billions of dollars, encompassing the purchase of 44-60 aircraft (depending on capabilities) plus 30 years of life-cycle support. It would be a huge win for Sikorsky, which was acquired by Lockheed Martin largely due to the promise of King Stallion.
The main customer is the U.S. Marine Corps, which plans to use King Stallion to carry marines and their equipment to shore from amphibious warfare ships far beyond enemy missile range. Selling King Stallion to key allies would bolster the program’s revenue potential—perhaps opening the door to additional sales in Europe, Asia, and even to the U.S. Army.
However Boeing, builder of the rival CH-47F twin-rotor Chinook, has other ideas. It thinks it can displace the CH-53 from both the German and Israeli markets by offering an upgraded version of its own heavy lifter that meets all customer performance requirements at considerably less cost.
Both companies contribute to my think tank, and that has given me unusual insight into their plans. I wrote a commentaryon June 29 spelling out why Sikorsky thinks King Stallion is a game-changer, so now it is Boeing’s turn.
What follows is a summary of the pitch Boeing is making to foreign customers in the market for new heavy lift helicopters, based on a presentation prepared for the German government. It is, in effect, Boeing’s case for why the latest version of Chinook is a better value than King Stallion.
It’s a case the U.S. Marine Corps will never buy—the Marines have invested $7 billion in developing King Stallion and are absolutely committed to the program—but Boeing’s case just might fly with the allies.
The latest version of King Stallion was designed to be the heaviest lifter in helicopter history, capable of carrying the 11-ton Joint Light Tactical Vehicle in an external sling to distances of over a hundred miles. However, neither Germany nor Israel has plans to buy that vehicle. The Israelis don’t carry external sling loads at all because they slow the aircraft, making it more vulnerable. The Germans do, but Boeing says Chinook in its latest configuration will be able to lift all of the tactical vehicles in the German army that King Stallion can.
Although King Stallion is a bigger aircraft than Chinook, Boeing notes that the size of their cabins is virtually identical. In fact, it says that due to weight limits on the CH-53K’s wheels, the CH-47F can “oftentimes carry more weight internally than the CH-53K.” Since Germany and Israel do not conduct the kind of ship-to-shore maneuvers practiced by the U.S. Marine Corps, Boeing figures that the greater external lifting power of King Stallion isn’t worth the additional cost to either country.
That external lifting power is just one of the features that makes King Stallion a new aircraft, much different from earlier versions of the CH-53. But Boeing argues this is not necessarily a virtue because the CH-53K is so new that its future reliability and maintainability are not yet proven. It says there are 562 Chinooks currently operational in 20 countries, whereas there are only four test versions of King Stallion in existence and no operational track record to compare with Chinook.
The version of Chinook Boeing is offering is itself an upgrade—both helicopters sport “glass” cockpits built by the Collins Aerospace unit of Raytheon Technologies—but it does not represent the leap in performance from what came before that King Stallion does. Thus, there are uncertainties associated with the operation and sustainment of CH-53K that do not arise in the case of the CH-47F.
Boeing notes that Germany and Israel both have extensive plans to modify whichever helicopter they buy with indigenously-produced equipment for communications, electronic warfare and other functions. The company says that it has a long history of customizing Chinook to meet the unique configuration requirements of foreign buyers, but there is no such history for King Stallion. Other than the U.S. Marine Corps, Germany and Israel are the only operators of the CH-53, and the variants they own are nothing like the latest version.
One area where this creates risk is in certifying mods of the aircraft for flight safety. Germany in particular is looking for a heavy lift helicopter that has been formally certified by some recognized authority, preferably a civil authority. But a supplemental type certificate will be required if modifications of the baseline aircraft are extensive, and Chinook has a much more extensive track record in that regard than the CH-53 does.
Boeing contends that the cost of procuring and operating the latest version of Chinook is far below that of King Stallion. In an apples-to-apples comparison, it calculates that “CH-47F aircraft cost is about half the CH-53K.” The higher price-tag for King Stallion could be justified if it were a markedly better fit for German and Israeli performance requirements, or more reliable and maintainable, but Boeing doubts that a case for either claim could be made convincingly.
When it comes to the cost of actually operating the two helicopters, Boeing estimates that “CH-47F costs less than one half to fly per hour than a CH-53K.” Its presentation to the Germans suggests an average annual cost per flight hour for CH-47F at $10,600 versus nearly $42,000 per hour for King Stallion, based on U.S. government statistics and operating assumptions. Looking at maintenance alone (not counting manpower), it figures Chinook will cost $4,300 per flight hour compared with $25,100 for King Stallion.
If true, that disparity would have big budgetary consequences over the course of a multi-decade service life. The Germans will distill all such statistics into a spreadsheet comparing the two rotorcraft after issuing a request for proposals in the fall and likely pick a winner in spring of 2021. Israel’s approach will be somewhat different since, unlike the Germans, it will be buying its heavy lifters through the U.S. foreign military sales program. But it says it needs new helicopters operational by 2025, so it won’t be long before the winners in each competition are known.
How to Buy a Private Helicopter: 5 Things You Need to Know When You Are Buying a Private Helicopter
There are many benefits of owning a helicopter, including getting to work on time when living 100 miles (ca. 161 km) away from your office. The main advantage of owning a helicopter is freedom. Once you have permission and some space, you can set your course for any destination.
- Will You Be the Pilot or the Passenger?
- Predetermine Your Budget
- How Far Will You Travel?
- Other Considerations
A private owner in the United Kingdom can fly to Devon and back to London without stopping to refuel. A pub in Oxford, the Manson’s Arms, has a helipad. The photographs of helicopters that visit adorn the walls of the pub. It is a thrilling and bizarre place to visit.
Modern helicopters have engines that are quieter and more efficient with advanced glass cockpits that offer fewer distractions for pilots. Airbus Helicopters’ Ed Sale responded to GQ at the Elite London event giving insight into what to consider when buying a private helicopter.
1. Will You Be the Pilot or the Passenger?
The majority of helicopter owners are pilots so they can fly themselves. Private pilots and those who own a helicopter and fly themselves prefer hands-on, less bulky designs.
Bigger helicopters are usually reserved for professional pilots while the owners sit in the back. The big shots use this as their executive means of transport. Midrange helicopters have administrative abilities too but are fun to handle.
The bigger the aircraft, the more experience a pilot requires. A well-trained amateur can fly any of the Robinson chopper models. The same applies to the B3 and B4 Eurocopter Ecureuil, AgustaWestland Koala and Bell 407. If you are looking at bigger models, like the AgustaWestland A109 with more sophisticated instrumentation, you will need a professional pilot.
If planning to become a pilot, next choose a flying school. Lots of flying schools will issue Private Pilot Licenses PPLs(H). Ask friends with helicopters to recommend a good flying school.
It helps if the flying school is local to you as you need a minimum of 45 hours of training over 12 months. Training costs vary from school to school but expect it to cost around $26,200 (around £20,000). This covers your tests, exams, flying hours, medicals, equipment, and airfield fees.
Training at Heli Air, one of the UK’s largest Robinson helicopter distributors, will cost you $10,500 (around £8,000). This covers theory in subjects like meteorology, air law, and flight planning. A Class 2 medical is compulsory.
After qualifying, you need an annual review to renew your license. You can opt to expand your qualification to include formation flying and night flying. The choice is yours.
2. Predetermine Your Budget
Design, capacity, and the manufacturer determines a helicopter’s price. Set your budget right from the start. It helps narrow your search.
Just like cars, you will have a range of options. Sloane Helicopters marketing director, Giorgio Bendoni, says first-time buyers can choose from the two-seater, single-piston Robinson R22 to the twin-turbine, eight-seater AgustaWestland Grand. It depends on budget flexibility.
While helicopters are expensive, some are cheaper than a Lamborghini. The Robinson R44, the world’s most famous helicopter, costs only $350,000 (around £313,500) and half that second-hand.
When setting your budget, add maintenance costs too. Some helicopter’s cost more to maintain than others. Lower priced helicopters can cost more in maintenance over the long run.
The AgustaWestland Grand and the AgustaWestland A109 are great in sophistication and space, but with an annual depreciation of five to 10 percent, you may want to weigh your options.
You should also consider the cost of insurance, capital investment, and depreciation.
3. How Far Will You Travel?
Aircraft manufacturers offer similar models with a small tweak in design and performance. Cheaper helicopters are smaller. And this limits the number of people it can carry, fuel capacity, and distance it can travel.
So, you need to decide how many people need to travel in your helicopter regularly. Also look at the distance it can travel before needing to refuel. The H125 is a midrange helicopter that guarantees 300 to 350 miles (ca. 563 km) or 2½ hours without refueling.
4. Other Considerations
The Airbus H160 is a new sleek design marketed to business and private customers, while the H125 has strong competition from the Bell 407. The cabin is separate from the cockpit and is luxurious. It has two seats facing each other and is a great option if you have a pilot. In contrast, an Airbus is a better option with you as the pilot as there is no separation from your passengers.
The choice of interior should reflect the helicopter’s purpose. Some people ignore carpets as it is a lot of work to keep clean. Leather seats are an attractive option as are seats with twin leather stitching which are currently in vogue.
Landing Space is Limited
Landing spaces in London are limited due to their tight restrictions on noise control, which limits helicopter paths. Battersea Heliport is the best place to land and continue your journey using other means. Places you can land outside London include Elstree, Denham, Biggin Hill, and Northolt.
Grab a helicopter landing guide to find somewhere to land in London. It has a list of landing sites around the UK and their phone numbers. This allows you to request landing permission before leaving for your destination. They may let you land for free or for a small fee (around $50).
Terms You Should Know
There are terms you should know if you intend to own a helicopter:
- VFR (Visual Flying Rules) means you have to keep sight of the ground.
- IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) means you can fly above or in the clouds.
- A two-seat piston engine VFR is a basic helicopter.
- ILS (Instrument Landing System) is what you dial into to get to the ground.
- You use a noise-canceling headset for communication.
- Autopilot allows you to control the aircraft without moving the controls and is not available in all helicopters.