04 Mei 2016
S-61 cockpit before and after upgrade (photo : AIN, helicopassion)
Airod, Malaysia’s government-owned maintenance, repair and overhaul group, announced signature of a contract with Heli-One (Norway) for the glass cockpit upgrade of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) fleet of Sikorsky S-61A-4s. The medium-lift helicopters are now more than 40 years old, and Airod expects the work to extend their lifespan “for at least another 15 years.” Heli-One is a subsidiary of CHC Helicopters and claims to be the world’s largest independent helicopter MRO, with facilities in Canada, Poland and the U.S., as well as Norway.
According to Airod, the upgrade will add new tactical capabilities and enable the aircraft to fly day or night under all weather conditions, as well as addressing obsolescence issues. The company’s display at the LIMA airshow in Langkawi last year listed the following features for the proposed upgrade: engine indicating and crew alerting system (EICAS); electronic flight instrument system (EFIS); multifunction Display (MFD); AHRS; VOR/ILS; air data computer; moving map display; and weather radar.
Although deliveries of a total 44 helicopters began in 1967, the Malaysian S-61s have flown an average of only 14,000 hours. The RMAF intends to retain 15 to 16 of them; another 12 to 14 are being transferred to the Malaysian Army. It is not clear whether or when the Army’s helicopters will be upgraded.
At the last LIMA show in Malaysia, AIN learned from various sources that Airod and the RMAF had flown an S-61 with a glass cockpit upgrade, in January 2015. However, its partner in that effort was Vector Aerospace, another major helicopter MRO. Vector told AIN this week that it was “unfortunate and quite disappointing” that AIROD had not invited the company to proceed to the next round of the upgrade, since it believed that the initial upgrades it did on a Malaysian S-61 performed very well. Airod did not respond to AIN’s request for a comment.