The company said its new Systems Integration Laboratory, at its Stratford, Conn., complex, will test avionics, electrical power systems, electronic flight controls, hydraulic flight controls and engine control subsystems.
Each subsystem will be evaluated independently before progressing to a fully integrated aircraft-representative test configuration.
"This is a world-class facility that provides a simulated flight environment, allowing us to test these key subsystems individually and then integrated together to warrant out any issues prior to advancing to test flight," said John Johnson, program manager for the CH-53K helicopter program.
"This will reduce the number of required flight test hours, resulting in significant time and cost savings to the customer."
Sikorsky said the integrated experience closely resembles the actual aircraft and will allow the pilot to fly simulated missions to evaluate qualitative performance such as pilot workload and warning annunciations, and have the actual "look and feel" of the aircraft.
Sikorsky Aircraft received a $3 billion System Development and Demonstration contract in 2006 to develop a replacement for the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E heavy lift helicopter. The new aircraft program is planned to include production of more than 200 aircraft.
The CH-53K helicopter is in the SDD phase with more than 99 percent of the major subcontracts awarded and valued at more than $1.1 billion.