After nearly two months of record forest fires from Michigan to California, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) added four more leased heavy helicopters to its firefighting fleet in late June. The additions include two Sikorsky S-61s from Siller Helicopters, an Erickson S-64 Air-Crane and an S-70 from Firehawk Helicopters. A spokesman for Erickson said that last year the company had six helicopters flying USFS contracts; this year that number is eight. The USFS said the helicopters will be used for large-fire support and in the initial assault both to drop retardant and support ground crews.
After nearly two months of record forest fires from Michigan to California, the U.S. Forest Service added four more leased heavy helicopters to its firefighting fleet this week. The additions include two Sikorsky S-61s from Siller Helicopters, an Erickson S-64 Air-Crane and an S-70 from Firehawk Helicopters.
Erickson Air-Crane and Stilwell Baker Inc. (SBI) have jointly developed and certified a modernized automatic flight control system (AFCS) for the Sikorsky S-64F heavy-lift helicopter, using an unusual reversal of the all-digital approach to avionics. Erickson has contracted with SBI for the latter to supply production AFCS hardware to equp the 16 S-64s in the Erickson fleet.
Northern Wisconsin forests are experiencing their worst drought in 70 years. The area’s abundant freshwater lakes have receded to record low levels and, although the spring had been unseasonably cold, by the end of May fire danger was high. More than 946 wild fires had consumed over 2,600 acres throughout the state and fire danger in the vast 1.5 million acre Cheqaumegon-Nicolet National Forest was so severe that the U.S.
The EAA announced that Elvis, one of 17 S-64 Aircranes operated and owned by Erickson, will be on display at its annual convention in Wisconsin this month and would likely fly demonstration slurry drops from its massive 2,650-gallon tank. The Oregon company builds, sells and operates S-64s in a variety of firefighting, construction and logging applications.
Erickson Air-Crane (Booth No. 2634), the holder of the S-64 Air-Crane’s type and production certificates, announced yesterday that it will be rebranding itself and expanding its OEM capabilities in the hopes of producing a new heavy-lift version of the iconic helicopter within two to three years.
Sikorsky S-64F, Torino, Italy, June 1, 2008– The Erickson Air-Crane aerial firefighting demonstration S-64 crashed in Lake Aviguana, near Torino, in VMC. The helicopter was flying over the lake at 40 to 50 knots to scoop up water when it hit the surface of the lake. The Italian government is investigating the accident. The commercial pilot-in-command and copilot reported minor injuries.
Oregon-based Erickson Air-Crane recently signed an 8.5-year, e200 million deal covering the continued operation of four S-64F Aircranes flown in support of Italy’s Department of Civil Protection for fire protection and disaster relief through 2016. Erickson has leased S-64 Aircrane Helitankers to the agency since 1999. Days before the deal was made public, Erickson announced substantial layoffs at its Central Point, Ore.
With fires in Colorado and Arizona consuming more than 500,000 acres of forest earlier this summer and other wildfires burning three million acres across the U.S. as of July 4, Evergreen Helicopters Inc. (EHI) of McMinnville, Ore., scrambled to keep crews in action to meet Forest Service and international fire-suppression needs.
Erickson Air-Crane is giving its star heavy lifter, the S-64 Aircrane, a makeover. The company is gradually retrofitting the 19 aircraft in its fleet with new-generation cockpit displays, attitude/heading reference systems (AHRS) and three-axis autopilots.
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