In the midst of the overwhelming technology that drives much of the business at HAI’s Heli-Expo, it’s sometimes refreshing to find equipment that performs best because of its simplicity.
Take Erickson’s S-64 Air-Crane. It’s sophisticated where it needs to be, yet simple where technology is not required, with 9,000 or more shaft horsepower, payloads of up to 25,000 pounds and a decades-old reputation.
The Erickson S-64 Helitanker in static display No. 67 is equipped with simple systems to fill its 2,650-gallon water tank in as little as 30 seconds.
Erickson’s ram scoop hydrofoil attachment is simply a tube that is lowered by winch until its hydrofoil tip–pitched to keep the assembly submerged–is underwater. The forward speed of the aircraft forces water up the tube (at a rate of more than 80 gallons per second), where a 70-gallon tank is provided for foam injection.
The scooping exercise is normally done about six feet above the water at forward speeds in the 35- to 40-knot range. Pilots monitor altitude with a light bar slaved to a radar altimeter.
Besides being of ultimate simplicity, Erickson also found the ram scoop hydrofoil ideal for use in salt water because extraneous spray generated by rotor downwash is dissipated aft of engine air intakes, discouraging ingestion of corrosive salt.
Erickson’s original Hover Snorkel with hydraulic impeller can also be used to refill tanks from fresh-water sources as shallow as 18 inches, and an optional 300-gpm water cannon can be mounted on the left side of the cockpit below the pilot’s door. The water cannon has proved useful in urban firefighting and in other limited-space environments.
The net result of quick filling and rapid dispersal of liquid from the S-64 is that it can disperse as much as 25,000 gallons per hour, which would total 200,000 gallons in eight hours of flight time.
More information on the Air-Crane Helitanker and other models is available at the static display or in Erickson’s Booth No. 1681.