Sikorsky’s S-70i achieves success

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An artist’s impression of an S-70i Firehawk in the colours of the LA County Fire Department.
Lockheed Martin

IN DECEMBER 2017, Sikorsky delivered two S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to the Los Angeles County Fire Department and received an order for a third from the City of San Diego. All three helicopters are to be converted to Firehawk configuration for firefighting duties.

The two S-70is delivered to the LA County Fire Department will complement three earlier S-70A helicopters that have also been modified to the Firehawk configuration. The two new helicopters will be modified during 2018 by a specialised outfitter and fitted with a belly tank capable of holding 1,000 US gallons (3,785 litres) of water, extended landing gear, a single-pilot cockpit and a cabin interior optimised for medical transportation.

LA Country Fire Department’s Air and Wildlife Division Deputy Chief, Thomas Ewald said: “We are very happy to take delivery of these two new Firehawk aircraft. With the recent catastrophic wildland fires in Los Angeles and the Southern California region, the need for additional effective fire-fighting resources, such as the S-70i Firehawk, is readily apparent. These two additional aircraft will enhance our existing fleet and strengthen both our day and night aerial fire-fighting capability, ultimately improving our ability to protect the lives and property of our citizens.”

On December 13, the San Diego City Council voted to approve the purchase of a single S-70i helicopter in baseline configuration, which, like the two Los Angeles-based aircraft, will be modified to Firehawk configuration by a specialist outfitter after it is delivered in 2018.

Sikorsky President Dan Schultz said: “When configured for its aerial fire-fighting mission, the Firehawk helicopter will give the City of San Diego a state-of-the-art platform proven to fight fires from the air and perform other life-saving missions.” With the decision, the City of San Diego became the second customer for the S-70i version of the Firehawk in 2017, behind Los Angeles.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said: “As wildfires continue to ravage our state, we must do everything in our power to make sure the San Diego region is as prepared as possible for the next major fire. We must continue to ensure our firefighters have the most advance tools at their disposal to keep San Diegans safe. This new Firehawk helicopter is going to take our aerial fire-fighting capabilities to the next level.”

The S-70i Firehawk features wider chord main rotor blades, uprated General Electric GE-T701D engines, a glass cockpit with a digital automatic flight control system and an integrated vehicle health management system. The helicopters are new-build aircraft from Sikorsky’s production line and customers in the United States can select a range of mission-specific preferences within the baseline configuration.

City of San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said: “The Firehawk configuration of the Black Hawk is the most capable multimission, fire-fighting helicopter available, with proven military-grade capabilities. Fires are spreading faster and getting larger. The need for aircraft to carry more water has become critical.” Nigel Pittaway