Changed the way the oil and aviation industry work together.
The S-76 was the first helicopter specifically designed by Sikorsky to meet the needs of the civilian and commercial markets. Seeing there was a growing need to move workers to off-shore oil drilling platforms, the company started work on a medium-sized utility transport helicopter in the mid-1970s.
The new design benefited from the engineering work that Sikorsky did for the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopter, as it used the same rotor head and rotor blades as the UH-60. Designated S-76 “Spirit” in honor of the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial, it made its first flight in March of 1977. In 1982, the S-76 set 12 world records for range, speed, ceiling and rate of climb for its class of helicopters.
First deliveries to customers started in 1979 and the S-76 proved that Sikorsky understood the market well. It has remained in production for over 39 years. A versatile aircraft, the S-76 has been produced in ten commercial variants and one military version, being outfitted for passenger transport, for search and rescue and as air ambulances. Although it was designed as a civilian helicopter, the S-76 also operates with the military forces of 15 countries around the world, many of which carry heads of state on official business. Probably the most famous of these are the two S-76s which serve Queen Elizabeth II of England as part of The Queen’s Helicopter Flight.
This S-76A was the 35th production S-76 built and rolled off the assembly line in November, 1979. Originally purchased by Houston Helicopters, Inc., it joined the PHI fleet in 1983. It was built with Allison 250 C30S engines, which were replaced with more powerful Turbomecca engines in 2001. This changed its designation to an S-76A++. It has served with Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. (PHI) for 33 years and was used to transport passengers under contract for a number of oil exploration and production companies. It made 36,244 take-offs and landings and accumulated 23,481 flight hours before it was retired in April 2016. This helicopter was generously donated to the Lone Star Flight Museum by PHI in 2018.
- Manufacturer: Sikorsky
- Country: United States
- Type: Utility Helicopter
- Engine: Two Turbomecca Arriel 1S1 Turboshaft
- Maximum speed: 178 mph
- Armamament: None
- Ceiling: 13,800
- Range: 473 miles
- Crew: 2.00
- Length: 52 ft., 6 in.
- Wingspan: 44 ft.
- Number built: 1,099+ (still in production)
- Approximate Fuel Burn: 105 gal/hr