Vought Aircraft Industries has secured another contract to supply Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. with Black Hawk helicopter cabin structures.
Under the preceding contract with Sikorsky, assembly work on the cabin structure for the newest Black Hawk variant, the UH-60M, began last year at Vought’s 5.4 million-ft2 Jefferson Street plant in Dallas, where it also builds tail sections, wings, and other major components for a variety of aircraft makers. The UH-60M recently reached full-rate production for the U.S. Army.
About 450 of the total 2860 people employed at the plant work on the Black Hawk program. Workers there also build the cabin structure for the UH-60L and MH-60S variants. First deliveries of Black Hawks were in 2005, for the UH-60L.
More monolithic machined parts are used in the construction of the new model’s cabin, a Vought spokesperson said. However, there are “no major facility differences” for the new M variant, she said, and all models flow through the same assembly tools “for the most part.”
It takes Vought workers roughly the same amount of time to build each variant, although the M is a little more labor-intensive than the L, but less than the S, according to the spokesperson. The cabin structure consists of about 3600 parts.
She said that work at Vought is done on a build-to-print basis. Aside from some fuel-system work, the job consists mostly of structural build. Some structural subassemblies are delivered to the plant by domestic suppliers.
It takes about four months to build a Black Hawk cabin from start to finish, and there are about 20 in various stages of construction at any point.
Each variant has a mass of about 2000 lb. The cabin structure is made mostly of aluminum, with some titanium and composites, the Vought spokesperson said. Very little steel is used.
The UH-60M Black Hawk is designed to replace the UH-60L, which will continue to be sold overseas. New for the M is the airframe, avionics, and propulsion system. The MH-60S Knighthawk is an amalgam of the UH-60L and its U.S. Navy variant, the SH-60B Seahawk.