LA County Fire Sikorsky S 70A Firehawk. (Alan Wilson)
Sikorsky received a Restricted Category type certificate from the FAA for its S-70M third-generation Black Hawk, allowing the company to produce the aircraft for the civil helicopter market for functions such as external cargo, agriculture operations, and forest and wildlife conservation.
In the latter special purpose category, restricted category aircraft such as the S-70M may drop water as part of an aerial firefighting operation. Sikorsky says it has received orders and inquiries from municipalities in California and other western states for S-70 FireHawks that can fight fires with a 1,000-gallon external water tank.
The S-70M is based on the UH-60M utility aircraft that Sikorsky has build since 2005 for the U.S. Army, which has purchased more than 1,000 for itself and international militaries.
Sikorsky also released a beta version of its iFly Sikorsky performance calculator app for the S-70i Black Hawk. Already available for the S-92A and S-76D aircraft, the iFly app supports pilots and mission planners in configuring aircraft cabin layout, installed mission equipment, calculating aircraft weight and balance, accessing weather data, predicting aircraft performance throughout a planned flight and determining range relative to position and intended destination.
“What can take 15 minutes with the Rotorcraft Flight Manual can take seconds with the iFly Sikorsky app,” said Simon Gharibian, director of Global Sustainment Centers of Excellence for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Missions Systems. “Pilots can compile accurate information about optimum flight performance that greatly enhances aircraft safety."
“Following beta testing during early 2019, we will be offering this capability to militaries and government agencies around the world that are flying S-70i Black Hawk helicopters,” he added.
The functionality of iFly has steadily grown since the app’s release as a basic performance calculator in 2013. Sikorsky also plans to add the ability for operators flying to Norway’s North Sea oil rigs to receive real-time meteorological data direct from micro weather stations located at destination helidecks, or optionally via satellite communication link while in flight. These functionality upgrades come courtesy of separate agreements between Sikorsky and MM Aviation, part of Aircontact Group AS, and Outerlink, a Metro Aviation company.
In yet another Heli-Expo announcement, Sikorsky has authorized Eagle Copters to operate as its latest customer support center in Calgary, Canada, which will be the company’s fourth in Canada and 22nd worldwide.
“We’re very honored to become the next authorized Sikorsky Customer Support Center, said Eagle Copters president and Chief Executive Barry Kohler. “We have been expanding our product and service offerings over the past few years and joining the Sikorsky team and working on the time-honored S-76 platform is a logical extension of our experience in medium helicopters.”
Seventy Sikorsky commercial helicopters currently operate in Canada, supporting a variety of missions including offshore oil-and-gas, charter airline service, emergency medical service, utility work and VIP transport.