Leonardo in January won the competition to replace the U.S. Navy’s TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopter, receiving a $176 million contract for an initial 32 TH-73A versions of the AW119 light helicopter.
In January, Erickson and Sikorsky announced they are to install Matrix autonomy technology on the S-64F Aircrane heavy-lift helicopter and demonstrate autonomous firefighting capabilities in 2021.
German startup Fraundorfer Aeronautics conducted the first flight of the Tensor 600X compound gyrocopter on Feb. 28 from Donauwurth-Genderkingen Airport near Munich. The winged autogyro is a demonstrator for a two-seat personal air vehicle.
Bell (left), Sikorsky/Boeing (right)
The U.S. Army in March awarded Bell and Sikorsky/Boeing two-year competitive demonstration and risk-reduction contracts for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk.
Bell (left), Sikorsky (right)
Bell and Sikorsky were selected in March to build competing prototypes of the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) to replace AH-64 Apaches used as armed scouts. Flight tests are to begin in 2023.
Leonardo in April completed its $185 million takeover of Switzerland’s Kopter Group and its SH09 light single-turbine helicopter from private equity firm Lynwood.
Airbus secured long-awaited certification for its H160 twin-engine medium helicopter from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency in June, but first delivery awaits approval from the FAA.
Hill Helicopters concept
UK startup Hill Helicopters in August revealed plans to develop the HX50, a five-seat, single-turbine helicopter for the private aviation market. Production is expected to begin in 2023.
Boeing (U.S. Army, left), Sikorsky (U.S. Navy, right)
Germany in October canceled a tender to replace its CH-53G transport helicopters, saying prices for the offered Boeing CH-47F and Sikorsky CH-53K were unaffordable.
Downselects to finalists in two key U.S. military rotorcraft competitions were the high points of 2020 for the industry, but there was plenty of other activity from light helicopters to heavy-lift transports.
Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.