Erickson is the manufacturer and worldwide operator of the S-64 Aircrane and values the contract at more than $300 million (€194 million), saying it is the largest aircraft lease in the history of the company. European Air-Crane CEO Gian Franco Blower and his team signed the contract with officials of the department.
The pact ensures the continued availability of the four S-64Fs already in Italy for fire suppression, civil protection, and disaster relief work throughout the mainland and islands of Italy.
All of Erickson’s flight operations, parts tracking and MRO support will come from the company’s headquarters in Central Point, Ore.
Erickson Air-Crane has leased its S-64s to the Italian department since 1999. Its first Helitanker was based on the island of Sardinia. Since then, the department has increased the integration of the Helitanker in its firefighting fleet, culminating in this recent contract for four S-64F Helicopters through 2016.
A department official called the Helitankers "a great addition to our firefighting and disaster relief capability."
Italy’s civil protection department has used the Aircrane Incident Response Systems capabilities in a variety of disaster relief/emergency response missions. Recently, European Air-Crane employed the S-64 to construct volcanic blast shelters at 3,000 ft above the Mediterranean Sea on the volcanic island of Stromboli.
Since the certification of the 2,650-gal tank system in 1992, the Erickson Air-Crane S-64 Helitanker has performed as an integral part of the U.S. Forest Service aerial firefighting fleet and is used worldwide to fight fires.