Sikorsky S-92

Having the off-shore oil industry in mind Sikorsky developed this large helicopter, designated S-92 for the civil market and H-92 Superhawk for the military customers. The helicopter has a long fuselage with a blunt nose, while the end tapers to a point in the vertical plane, but stays wide as the forward part of the cabin. The narrower tail boom extends from just above the taper point. The S-92 has a swept vertical stabiliser with the four blade tail rotor on top, at the right side. The tail rotor is a bit canted. There is a single horizontal stabiliser on the right, also attached to the vertical stabiliser by a rodd. Note however, that the prototype had the horizontal stabiliser high on the left side! At both sides of the fuselage there are big sponsons holding the fuel and the two wheel main landing gear. The double wheel nose gear retracts forward in the nose. The four blade main rotor is powered by two turboshaft engines placed at the side of the gear box housing.

The Sikorsky S-92 has one of the largest sponsons of all helicopters, so they are a good recognition point.

Other key features of the S-92 are the horizontal stabiliser connected to the vertical fin by a rodd, the canted tail rotorand the fuselage that tapers towards the rear, but stays as wide as the rest of the fuselage.

Different versions

The different versions of the Sikorsky S-92 can externally be distinguish by

  • the number of cabin windows
  • the presence of bulges and antennas under the nose, and underneath/at the side of the fuselage


The basic civil version is designated S-92A. It has seven cabin rounded rectangular windows on each side. It only has small antennas and no bulges or radomes. 

The civil version of the Sikorsky S-92, the S-92A, has seven cabin windows in each side and normally few bulges. However, this SAR example has a hoist and several sensors underneath the forward fuselage.

H-92 Superhawk & CH-148 Cyclone

The military version has more powerfull engines than the civil variant. Moreover, depending on the exact configuration, it can have multiple bulges and antennas holding sensors and radars. So far, only Canada operates this version, designated CH-148 Cyclone. This variant has a round radome underneath the forward fuselage, multiple sensors on the nose, and bulge under the engines, at the side of the sponsons and tail boom. The tail boom can be folded to reduce the parking space required on ships. 

The military version of the S-92 is marketed as H-92 Superhawk. The only customer so far is the Canadian air force, that designates it as CH-148 Cyclone. Note the radome under the fuselage and many sensors on the nose. (photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Santiago Navarro - US Navy/WikiMedia)

VH-92A Patriot

The VH-92A is a version of the S-92 acquired by the US military to transport the US president and other government officials. It has fewer cabin windows than the standard S-92, three on the left and four on the right. Moreover, it has additional sensors underneath the fuselage and on top of the tail boom, above the end of the fuselage.

The VH-92A Patriot is the new US presidential helicopter, based on the S-92. Note the fewer cabin windows and sensors underneath the fuselage and on top of the tail boom. (photo: US Navy/WikiMedia)

Confusion possible with

Avicopter AC313A

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While the original Avicopter AC313 is a development of the Z-8, itself a clone of the SA321 Super Frelon, the AC313A looks much like the S-92. The AC313A has the horizontal stabiliser higher up the vertical fin than the S-92, and it supported by a strut under­neath. The tail rotor is on the left side, and the AC313A has three engines.

Leonardo AW101 (EH101)

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The biggest western-built competitor to the S-92 is also a similar looking heli­cop­ter. The AW101/EH101 has three engines though, smaller sponsons, a five blade main rotor and a tail rotor on the left side, to name a few eye-catching differences. 

Sikorsky S-65/H-53

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The older and bigger stablemate of the S-92 is also known for large sponsons, but is essentially different in other areas. The S-65 and H-53 variants have six or seven main rotor blades, two or three engines, tail rotor on the left and a high mounted horizontal stabiliser on the right.

Sikorsky S-61R/HH-3

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This derivative of the S-61/Sea King has more in common with the S-92 than the original. It has a loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage, large sponsons and an all two wheel nose gear. The S-61R and CH-3/HH-3 variants have a five blade main rotor, a tail rotor on the left and a high mounted horizontal stabiliser on the right.

Mil Mi-38

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Russia's entry in this class of helicopters is the Mil Mi-38. You will immediately notice that this helicopter has no sponsons, a single wheel main landing gear and a six blade main rotor. Also, the angle between the four tail rotor blades is not equal.