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Sikorsky has sold its light product line — including the popular light helicopter S-300 — to Schweizer RSG, a new company affiliated with Rotorcraft Services Group in Fort Worth, Texas, bringing an end to years of uncertainty as to the type’s future with the manufacturing giant.
The sale brings hope of improved support for the estimated 2,900 S-300 series aircraft flying around the world, while allowing Sikorsky to focus on its two main product lines in the civilian market — the S-76 and S-92.
“For a number of years, we explored the right business path for production of the light helicopter product line while we fulfilled our order commitments and strengthened our supply chain,” said Dana Fiatarone, vice president for commercial systems and services at Sikorsky. “We feel we are now in the right position to transfer ownership of the S-300 and S-333 as well as the aftermarket support for both models.”
The transaction closed on Jan. 24, and was announced the following day to Sikorsky’s employees, customers, and suppliers. The manufacturer said the sale will have “no impact” on its commercial workforce or the facility in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where the S-300 production line was based.
The sale is immediate, but Fiatarone said there will be some transition services as the line changes ownership.
“We will be supporting Schweizer RSG as they take over the assets and the support of the business,” he said. “Importantly for our customers, we did make them aware of the sale and also did let them know we would fulfill our commitments under existing orders.
“So, whether that’s aircraft delivery orders or spares orders, Sikorsky is committed to fulfilling those commitments as RSG transitions into support and service of the aircraft, and for new aircraft and spares orders, they’ll work with Schweitzer RSG to make those happen.”
Sikorsky had purchased the type — originally known as the Hughes 300 — through its acquisition of Schweizer Aircraft Corporation in 2004, and rebranded it the Sikorsky S-300.
While it initially appeared that the new ownership might revitalize the series, those hopes soon diminished, particularly after Sikorsky closed the original Schweizer manufacturing plant in Elmira, New York, in 2010.
The president of Schweizer RSG is David Horton, who served as the president and general manager of Schweizer Aircraft from 2008 to 2010. Horton told Vertical that the new company’s priority is, “first and foremost, to support the customers that already have the product,” with an immediate focus on strengthening the supply chain.
However, the company has already established a partnership with Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which will begin producing the S-300 under license with approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
“In China, I think [the S-300] is going to be a strong player,” Horton said, adding that once U.S. customers have renewed confidence in support for the aircraft, Schweizer RSG will work toward setting up an S-300 production line in Fort Worth. He added that the company will also be actively pursuing improvements and upgrades to the aircraft.
According to Horton, Schweizer RSG plans to hold a meeting for S-300 customers at HAI Heli-Expo 2018, Feb. 26 to March 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the company will share further information about its plans and gather feedback from existing customers.