S-64 Aircranes for L.A.?

 - September 28, 2006, 12:32 PM

Erickson Aircrane (Booth No. 1681) recently completed a series of demonstrations for the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LACFD) to illustrate how its Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane can deal with a range of emergency response missions.

During a three-day period in December, the crew of an Aircrane demonstrated how the helo could suppress fires in a high-rise building with a water/foam cannon, rescue survivors from the water in a basket and treat them in a hard-mounted medevac pod. The Aircrane also laid cable from a reel, lifted a standard ship container and removed wreckage using a hydraulic grapple.

Erickson is already under contract to the LACFD to fight fires in the area, and spokesman Dennis Hubbard said the Aircrane incident response systems (AIRS) program “is a joint effort between us and the department to develop a wider spectrum of aerial response for Los Angeles.”

Demonstrating the Aircrane

Erickson brought the Helitanker alongside the old Aeon building in downtown Los Angeles to show the water/foam cannon’s capability to suppress high-rise fires. The cannon was also employed to refill fire engine tanks and, using a Y-type connector, power “at least” two handheld hoses at once.

During the hydraulic grapple demonstration at Disaster City, a 52-acre site near College City, Texas, the Aircrane grabbed and transported a minivan and two sedans to simulate a multiple-car pileup. Erickson used its own logging grapple, which has 42,000 pounds of grip and three-second opening and closing times.

Another scenario involved a hard-mounted pod intended for emergency medical evacuation and transporting materials. The pod is attached directly to the Aircrane and includes electrical wiring, attachment lugs and fittings to accommodate a wide variety of uses from command and control, communications, medical facilities, personnel transport, and decontamination stations, to mobile field kitchens and urgent-care facilities.

The rescue basket was flown and dipped into Los Angeles Harbor waters near San Pedro to illustrate its flight characteristics and show how water recoveries could be performed. Erickson’s rescue basket is held by a long line rather than a winch, but can rescue up to 29 people and carry them to safety.

AIRS coordinator Lanny Allmaras sees immediate applications for some of the missions. “Our goal is to set the framework for an incident response platform, involving some capabilities that may seem unconventional right now but will prove effective through test and development, and others that we can offer right now.”

Hubbard said that the trials have prompted “serious discussions” with L.A. city fire chief William Bamattre and his staff, as to how Erickson might expand the scope of the existing contract.