Schweizer Exploring Turbine Engine Installation for S300C


Credit: Alf van Beem

ATLANTA—Schweizer is considering the installation of a turbine engine as a possible alternative to the piston engine that currently powers its S300C light helicopter.

Engineers at the Fort Worth-based company, which secured the rights and type certificate to the Schweizer family of light helicopters from Sikorsky in 2018, have produced preliminary drawings for a potential installation of a turbine onto the aircraft, CEO David Horton told Aerospace DAILY during the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo here March 8.

The current S300C is powered by a Textron Lycoming HIO-360-D1A piston engine.

“There are remote parts of the world where they need helicopters to perform different missions, but they don’t have access to 100 Low Lead [aviation fuel] but they do have access to Jet A or kerosene,” Horton said. There are several engine options out there that could fit the 930-kg (2,050-lb.) maximum gross weight rotorcraft, Horton says, but his company would have to establish a “good relationship” with the engine provider first. Another advantage of the turbine would be that most turbine engines now feature full authority digital engine control.

Horton said any installation of a turbine should not require extensive re-engineering of the aircraft in a bid to reduce cost and risk. It is one of several options being considered as the company expands its operations and grows production.

The company has built and delivered seven helicopters and refurbished and delivered two more since restarting production in 2020.

Earlier this month, the company secured its Production Certificate from the FAA, allowing it to build both the S300C and the S300CBi model.

The first batch of aircraft had been produced with Production Under Type Certificate (PUTC) approval, which requires significant FAA oversight for each aircraft produced.

Looking ahead, the company has ambitions to expand production up to 50 aircraft per year for commercial and military customers by 2025-26.

Among the seven aircraft built were four S300Cs for the Senegalese Air Force that were delivered at the end of last year.

Horton said he is hopeful of securing a sizable order backlog based on meetings from Heli-Expo, as operators become more confident in the company’s ability to support fleets.

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Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.