Sikorsky, Boeing FLRAA demonstrator conducts endurance flight

By Evan Ochsner / March 31, 2022 at 4:08 PM

Boeing and Sikorsky's technology demonstrator for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft flew over 700 nautical miles -- with two fuel stops -- from West Palm Beach, FL, to Nashville, TN, the companies announced Thursday.

The flight, ending at a hangar near the location of the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual conference, demonstrates the high level of confidence the companies have in the safety, maturity and reliability of the SB-1 Defiant, company officials told reporters.

“We wanted to show that we are highly confident in this aircraft,” said Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift.

The SB-1 Defiant will be on display during the conference next week, according to company officials and a press release.

“We’re excited for the Army soldiers to see it and understand what the aircraft will do for the Army,” Sikorsky president Paul Lemmo told reporters.

The Army has said it will announce this summer its selection between proposals submitted by Boeing-Sikorsky and Bell for the FLRAA.

The SB-1 Defiant flight was the first time the helicopter had flown outside of Florida, Lemmo said. The aircraft used about 50% of available power and flew around 175 knots true airspeed. Fuel burn was less than they expected for the flight, officials said.

“I think it demonstrates that there’s a lot more that this aircraft has to offer, and we certainly think that it’s the future of Army aviation,” Lemmo said.

The aircraft did not require maintenance at either of its fuel stops, stopping only briefly both times, officials said.

Boeing and Sikorsky will continue to fly the SB-1 Defiant at least into the near future, officials said.

"This aircraft has a lot of life left, so we’re going to continue to fly it as long as we can and figure out risk reduction so that on day one of the award we’re ready to go,” Lemmo said. “And if we can, we’ll continue to fly it even past day one of the award.”

Bell retired its FLRAA technology demonstrator last year after it flew more than 200 hours.

Boeing and Sikorsky also on Thursday announced six new suppliers for the Defiant X project.

ATI will provide gearbox forgings; Collins Aerospace will provide flight control, a vehicle management computer and aircraft seats; Elbit Systems of America will provide a mission system computer; Parker Aerospace will provide flight controls, hydraulic pumps and modules; Magnaghi Aeronautica will provide landing gear; and Marotta Controls will provide electrical power system components.

Sikorsky and Boeing previously announced that Honeywell will provide the engine for Defiant X.