Sikorsky has begun producing the S-76D helicopter airframe at its Aero Vodochody assembly line in Czech Republic.

The S-76D features all-composite, flaw-tolerant main rotor blades, an advanced Thales avionics system and autopilot and an optional rotor ice protection system for all-weather capability.

The new helicopter also has a higher payload capability and extended range compared with the offer existing S-76C+ and S-76C++ aircraft.

The first S-76D helicopter airframe had its fuselage joined and then entered final assembly at Aero Vodochody.

The fuselage will depart for delivery in April 2010 to Sikorsky Global Helicopters facility in Pennyslvania where final assembly and completion of the S-76D helicopters will take place.