As AIN was going to press, the first of four S-64 Aircranes arrived in Italy (see 'Vintage heavy lifter gets new-generation avionics'). It was due to make its inaugural flight on October 15.
Sagem Avionics of Grand Prairie, Texas, has developed a glass cockpit for the Erickson S-64 Aircrane, a type currently much in demand as an aerial firefighter. New digital avionics, together with a solid-state attitude heading reference system and three-axis automatic flight control system, complete what Sagem calls “the most extensive upgrade to the helicopter since its incorporation into the Erickson fleet.”
Last year was something of a landmark in helicopter firefighting activity. During one of the driest summers on record in the northern hemisphere, rotorcraft were deployed for long periods–often to areas where they had not been needed before–to stem the progress of flames.
Sabreliner Corp., a name long synonymous with the business jet market, has turned to designing and installing custom interiors in government VIP helicopters.
European Air-Crane, an affiliate of Erickson Air-Crane, has assisted Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark in erecting a dozen three-megawatt wind turbine generators near the Italian mountain village of Ricigliano.
Erickson Air-Crane will hand over a “new” S-64 Helitanker to Italy’s Corpo Forestale dello Stato (state forestry corps, or CFS) this morning at Booth No. 2829. The aircraft is the second of four for the CFS to be upgraded by the Central Point, Ore. company, which has owned the helicopter’s type certificate since 1992.
Helitanker operators may have thought they would profit after the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Department of the Interior (DOI) terminated contracts for 33 fixed-wing large airtankers due to airworthiness concerns last May, but a quiet fire season and a decrease in profitable call-when-needed deployments mitigated the potential windfall.
Fires are a huge and growing problem in Spain and its islands, as they are throughout southern Europe. As many as 250 aircraft–the vast majority of them helicopters–are currently involved in fighting bush and forest fires around Spain. One of the country’s biggest contributors to this annual effort is Helisureste (HS), based in Alicante on the country’s Mediterranean coast.
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.
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.