Black Hawk The Story of a World Class Helicopter Ray D. Leoni

5th October 2007
American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics
325 pages: 226 x 156 x 18mm
Library of Flight

This story tells, in clear detail, how Sikorsky Aircraft developed, tested, modified, and produced one of the most successful helicopters in the world. Written by the man considered to be the father of the Black Hawk, Ray Leoni explains how Sikorsky used innovative designs with the right advanced technologies to meet the Army's stringent specifications for aircraft performance, survivability and reliability. With its creative Black Hawk design, Sikorsky won an uphill, highly-contested battle for one of the world's largest helicopter programs which reestablished the company as a leader in the world community of helicopter producers.Black Hawk variants have been put in service by every branch of the US Military and by over 24 countries around the world accumulating over 5 million flight hours. Through its combat service in the campaigns of Granada, Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Black Hawk has demonstrated unprecedented mission versatility and survivability and proven itself to be an outstanding war-fighting machine that will serve for a half century or longer.In the best tradition and vision of Igor Sikorsky, Black Hawks are performing world-wide rescue and humanitarian missions saving countless lives and providing relief from natural and manmade disasters to thousands of people across the globe.The Army program began in 1972 with the issuance of Requests for Proposals for the Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System to the U.S. helicopter industry. Both Boeing Vertol and Sikorsky were awarded contracts to design and build prototype Black Hawks for Army side-by-side evaluation. Those awards set off an intense 4-year competition between the two companies that culminated in the final production selection in 1976. That competition focused on developing the best possible helicopter to offer for production selection by the Army following a 7-month fly off evaluation. During this critical evaluation, a night-time crash occurred of one of Sikorsky's three prototypes with 14 Army personnel aboard.This book shows the cause and results of that crash and describes how its consequences actually strengthened Sikorsky's competitive position.It also describes in considerable technical detail the problems encountered by Sikorsky during prototype development in vibration, speed performance, maneuverability and handling qualities and how they were solved in time for the production award. Many of the key people responsible for the success of the Black Hawk program are identified throughout this book. Readers will benefit from the unique insights into the challenges of helicopter development as well as successful management strategies presented in this book.

Ray Leoni's professional career was with Sikorsky Aircraft from college graduation, through 41 years of service and three years of advance design consulting work, until his retirement. He started as a design engineer of helicopter transmission and rotor systems and later became a designer participating in new V/STOL concepts and helicopter designs. He conducted concept formulation studies for the Army UTTAS program and led the team whose design was proposed to the Army for what later became the BLACK HAWK helicopter. After contract award to Sikorsky for the BLACK HAWK prototype program, Mr. Leoni was appointed Program Engineering Manager responsible for all BLACK HAWK engineering design and test activities. He was awarded the design patent for BLACK HAWK as well as nine other patents. He also served as Program Manager through the later stages of development until Sikorsky won the BLACK HAWK production contract. Mr. Leoni was appointed Vice President for Research and Engineering shortly after his BLACK HAWK assignments and later became Senior Vice President, Engineering and Advanced Programs. Mr. Leoni received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Brown University and Master of Engineering degree from Yale University. A long time member of the American Helicopter Society he received

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