Sikorsky S-76
Sikorsky S-76.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

This American manufacturer produces large VIP transport and medium-lift helicopters, including rotorcraft for the U.S. presidential fleet.

What It Is:  Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is an American manufacturer of large VIP transport and medium-lift helicopters. It has supplied rotorcraft for the U.S. Presidential fleet since 1957.

How It Grew: After emigrating to the U.S. in 1919, aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky founded Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation in New York in 1923, then moved the company to Stratford, Connecticut, in 1925. It became part of the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, later United Technologies Corporation, in 1929 and remained in the UTC portfolio until Lockheed Martin purchased Sikorsky in 2015 for $9 billion. 

Igor designed and built his first rotorcraft in Russia in 1909 but quickly realized it would never fly. Twenty years later—after having designed more than 23 fixed-wing aircraft including the S-38 flying boat and S-42 Clipper used by Pam American Airlines—he began filing patents for “direct lift” aircraft. 

In 1940 the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, a three-bladed rotorcraft with a tail rotor for anti-torque, became the first successful single lifting rotor helicopter in the U.S. That success led to the Sikorsky R-4, which was quickly adopted for use in World War II, becoming the world’s first large-scale, mass-produced helicopter. The single main rotor disk and tail rotor configuration became the standard for helicopters, earning Igor the title “Father of the Modern Helicopter.” 

The company pivoted from aircraft to helicopters, supplying the U.S. military with iconic rotorcraft such as the H-34 Choctaw, SH-3 Sea King and its civilian S-61 version, and C53 Sea Stallion (aka Jolly Green Giant), all produced through the 1970s. In 1974, Sikorsky began production of the now-ubiquitous UH-60 Black Hawk medium lift attack helicopter. 

Following the 1973 oil crisis, Sikorsky designed a purely commercial helicopter. The S-76, named for the U.S. Bicentennial and carrying up to 14 passengers, achieved FAA type certification in 1978. About every 10 years, Sikorsky introduces a model of the S-76 with updated engines, rotor blades, and/or avionics. 

The larger-cabin S-92 received FAA type certification in 2002 and is being used as the platform for replacing the aging Presidential fleet. Sikorsky is scheduled to deliver 23 VH-92A helicopters to the U.S. Navy between 2021 and 2023.  

Sikorsky S-76 interior
Sikorsky S-76 interior.

What It Offers: VIP transport helicopters S-76D, S-92A+, and S-92B, plus five military and civilian Black Hawk variants. 

What’s New: Sikorsky is developing a light attack helicopter—the S-97 Raider—featuring a twin coaxial rotor disk and pusher propeller that can fly twice as fast as traditional rotorcraft. 

Fast Facts:  

Founded: 1923

HQ: Stratford, Connecticut

Employees: approximately 13,000

Revenues: $1.4 billion net sales in 2018

President: Daniel C. Schultz