The U.S. State Department is still awaiting the delivery of 13 refurbished Sikorsky S-61T Triton helicopters it ordered under a 2010 umbrella contract, initially to support the diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. The department has already received 16 modernized S-61Ns.
Levi Phillips, director of maintenance for Carson Helicopters Services, pleaded guilty on September 23 in the U.S. District Court in Medford, Oregon, for his role in falsifying documents pertaining to a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter owned and operated by Carson.Two company executives were indicted earlier this year in relation to the crash.
An Oregon jury has awarded William Coultas, his wife and the widow of pilot Roark Schwanenberg $69.7 million in a damages suit brought in the 2008 “Iron 44” crash of a Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N. The verdict puts General Electric alone on the hook; other parties settled out of court before the trial. The helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from a helispot while conducting firefighting operations in Northern California. Schwanenberg and eight others aboard the helicopter died.
An avionics retrofit for Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters is being proposed as part of a new partnership between the multinational Cobham Group and Carson Helicopters of the U.S. Cobham has provided avionics to most aerospace majors, while Carson has specialized in airframe modifications to enhance the performance of S-61 helicopters.
Several established federal criminal investigations are under way into the events surrounding the August 2008 helispot takeoff crash of a Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N operating under contract to the U.S. Forest Service that killed nine near Weaverville, Calif. The pilot, a U.S. Forest Service check airman, and seven firefighters were killed; the copilot and three firefighters survived.
The August 2008 fatal crash of a Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N has triggered several federal criminal investigations and renewed scrutiny of private aircraft on public use contracts.
Investigators are continuing to study why a Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N “Fire King” crashed August 5, killing nine of 13 aboard. This was the first major crash of an S-61 in 25 years.
Carson Helicopters of Perkasie, Pa., has been granted FAA certification for new main rotor blades for the Sikorsky S-61. The design incorporates two airfoils and 12 degrees of twist, giving the venerable Sikorsky workhorse 2,000 pounds more lift in a hover and adding 15 knots to the cruise speed compared with the standard metal blades at the same power settings. Carson has signed a contract with NASA for exclusive use of the airfoils.
Acrohelipro and Carson helicopters are outfitting the first two of Carson’s Sikorsky S-61 fleet with Sagem Avionics’ integrated cockpit display system retrofit. Carson will retrofit 10 S-61s over the next two-and-a-half years. The refit includes five 10-inch cockpit displays, comprising two primary flight displays, two multifunction displays and one caution advisory panel for CAS messages.
Carson Helicopters Services and Sagem Avionics are teaming to install and certify a suite of digital avionics in the Sikorsky S-61, including a five-tube array of 10.4-inch flat-panel color displays. Further, the Carson S-61 upgrade will put new composite main rotor blades, a dual-channel AFCS and a solid-state air-data, attitude and heading system–both from Sagem–onto the venerable bird.