Both helicopters come directly from urban interface firefighting assignments in Southern California where they helped firefighters battle the record-breaking "Station Fire" near Los Angeles in the late summer. The world-renowned maneuverability and precision drop capability of the S-64 Aircrane Helitanker has made it the preferred method by Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments to fight fires that threaten lives and homes. Click this link to read more.
Portland Oregon - 10/9/09 - Amid a record breaking fire season in Southern California, Erickson Air-Crane has leased an Aircrane firefighting helicopter to San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) for 60 days with an option to lease the helicopter for another 30 days if fire conditions warrant. SDG&E has offered the leased S-64E "Helitanker" to the San Diego Fire Department which has operational control of the helicopter. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders acknowledged the generosity of SDG&E during a press conference which featured a flight demonstration on Thursday, October 8th.
Good afternoon.I'm happy to be joined today by so many distinguished guests
Thanks to the generosity of SDG&E, firefighters in the region will have use of this helicopter - technically called an Aircrane or Helitanker - for the remainder of this fire season. For the next few months, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department can dispatch the Helitanker wherever it's needed in San Diego County, be it the suburbs of Scripps Ranch or the mountain terrain of Julian.
For a sense of how big this thing is, consider that each of the city's two firefighting helicopters can carry up to 375 gallons. The Incredible Hulk can carry up to 2,500 gallons - more than six times that amount.
And it joins a growing fleet of air attack resources that stay in our region to suppress canyon and wildland fires when called upon. In these tough fiscal times, here's more good news - the Helitanker comes at a bargain price for firefighting in the region. SDG&E will pay the full cost of leasing the Helitanker from its manufacturer, Oregon-based Erickson Air-Crane. SDG&E will also pay for the cost of staffing the copter. Should the Helitanker be dispatched to fight a fire, SDG&E will also pay all the expenses for the first two hours the copter is up in the air.
When wildfires start, the first few minutes and hours are the most critical. Having the Helitanker for initial attack on any fire will help increase our chances of success.
"We are proud of our relationship with SDG&E and salute its generosity in making the Aircrane Helitanker available to the San Diego Fire Department." said Udo Rieder, President and CEO of Erickson Air-Crane.
The summer of 2009 was one of the worst on record for wildfires in Southern California. During the "Station Fire" in September, which burned over 250 square miles and destroyed 166 homes, four Erickson Helitankers dropped over 7 million gallons of water helping ground firefighters successfully contain the largest fire in Los Angeles County history.
Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated is the manufacturer and operator of the S-64 Aircrane Helicopter with a fleet of seventeen Aircrane helicopters worldwide that have operated within sixteen countries since 1971. With a lift capacity of up to 25,000 pounds (11,340 kg), the Aircrane is unsurpassed in the performance of Firefighting, Civil Protection, Hydromulch Application, Timber Harvesting, and Powerline Construction. Erickson Air-Crane is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified Repair and Overhaul Depot with a comprehensive manufacturing, maintenance, and repair capability. Erickson supports and maintains its worldwide fleet of Aircranes from the manufacturing facility located in Central Point, Oregon, and the corporate headquarters located in Portland, Oregon, USA.
The unique and versatile S-64 Aircrane Helitanker features a 2,650 gallon (~10,000 liter) tank with computer controlled tank doors that allow for eight different coverage levels. The onboard computer adjusts for airspeed and opens the tank doors to allow for a flow rate that matches the particular coverage level selected by the pilot. The Helitanker has received certification and approval from the United States Interagency Airtanker Board, which means that the attached tank on the S-64 Aircrane firefighting helicopter conforms to the same criteria as tanks installed on fixed wing aircraft. Considering the fast refill time of 45 seconds in a water source within a mile of the fire, the Helitanker is capable of delivering up to 30,000 gallons (~114,000 liters) per hour of foam mix, retardant, or water to the fire. A special "Sea Snorkel" augments the freshwater fill capabilities of the hover snorkel by enabling the tank to refill in nearby salt water sources as well. Refill with the Sea Snorkel is accomplished by skimming above the water surface at 35-45 knots as the hydrofoil ram scoop forces water up and into the tank. With the Sea Snorkel, refill can be accomplished in 30 seconds.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) continues to call on Erickson's Helitanker firefighting services. In California, Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments continue to keep a Helitanker in service through Shared Resource and Exclusive Use contracts. Other U.S. agencies have called on the Erickson Air-Crane Helitanker when they were in need of fast and precise suppression of threatening wildfires. These agencies include:
Portland, OR — September 18th, 2009 —The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) presented Erickson Air-Crane with a "Gold Certificate of Excellence" honoring Erickson's participation in the FAA sponsored Aviation Maintenance Training (AMT) program in 2008 as well as a "Special Recognition Award" signifying participation with the program for the past five years. Jim Hultgrien, (pictured on the left) FAA Safety Team Program Manager, presented Erickson Air-Crane President and CEO Udo Rieder both awards at the company's global headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
A company's eligibility for a Gold or Diamond "Certificate of Excellence" award is based on the number of employees who have received individual AMT awards during the year. For the 2008 calendar year, 189 Erickson Air-Crane employees received awards. Eight of those individuals received the highest level of recognition, a "Diamond" award, for meeting the required 58 hours of aviation industry maintenance training and completing 3 credit hours of college-level classes.
"We are extremely proud of our employees and their devotion to safety, which is shown by their commitment to continual education under the AMT program." said Rieder. "These awards, while presented to our company, reflect the dedication of our people."
The summer of 2009 has been another season fighting inferno for Erickson Air-Crane, manufacturer of the world-renowned Helitanker and heavy-lift helicopters. As an essential tool for the Forest Service, the Aircranes are credited for helping contain several wildfires and are now hard at it on some of the worst fires of the season.
In Southern California, four of Erickson's Helitankers are on the scenes battling several deadly wildfires which are raging out of control, consuming homes and forcing thousands of evacuations. In previous weeks, they have already helped put out wildfires in Washington State, Greece, and British Columbia and will soon be to Australia for the bushfire season that is soon approaching.
"Our helicopters do so many things, from heavy lifts atop tall buildings, power line construction and logging to fighting wildfire and emergency response," said Udo Rieder, President and CEO of Erickson Air-Crane. "But clearly our busiest time, where speed is of the essence and our dispatch crews work around the clock, is in response to the many wildfires that burn out of control in so many parts of the world. It is also the most harrowing flying for our pilots and crews and the most rewarding for all of the Erickson employees - knowing that we really do make a difference saving lives and property."
In California, where several wildfires have burned from the northern part of the state to Southern California, the Aircranes have been a critical part of the Forest Service arsenal. Four Aircranes are making sortie after sortie, dropping millions of gallons water and retardant on the fires and clearly making a difference. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency. Erickson's Aircranes are stationed in Southern California and several other parts of the country under annual contracts with the U.S. Forest Service as well as the city and county of Los Angeles.
"Our helicopters will be there working in concert with the ground fight until the last embers are extinguished," said Rieder.
The Aircranes suck up water from specially designed hoses while hovering over water as shallow as 18 inches, from creeks or lakes. Our patented sea snorkel allows the tanks to be filled without the need to slow down as the helicopter flies over the larger bodies of fresh water or the nearby ocean. It takes less than 30 seconds to fill the tank and then it's off for another drop.
"These are really incredible machines. Erickson transformed the heavy-lift helicopters into specialized firefighters in the 1990's and have been making a tremendous difference in the firefights ever since," Rieder added.
In the Pacific Northwest, --- Aircranes helped put out fires in central Washington State, about midway between Seattle and Spokane and in southeast Washington where nearly a hundred homes were threatened and a landmark restaurant destroyed.
In Canada, three Aircranes battled blazes in British Columbia. One helicopter, nick-named Elvis, was urgently called away from a demonstration at the country's largest air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and sent to join two other Aircranes already battling fires in Canada. It is the most activity Erickson has seen in British Columbia in ten years.
In Greece, five Aircranes have flown over 660 hours and dropped nearly five and-a-half million gallons of water on fires burning out of control near Athens. They have been in Greece since mid-June. The country has had devastating fatal fires which have damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and threatened the heart of the Greek capital. The Aircranes, fighting the fires in Greece, have been featured in news photos and video around the world. The fires in Greece are out now and damage assessments are underway.
"These fires had the most raging flames we've seen in a long time," said Jeff Zuill, project manager in Greece. "The winds caused a great deal of angst and made for considerable turbulence as we were dropping water on the flames. The winds also pushed the fires close to our operating base which was quite worrisome. Luckily the winds died down and our water drops along with the ground fight had the fires contained."
In Australia, Erickson Aircranes and their crews are given hero status for the work they have done helping to contain devastating bushfires. In February, the infamous "Black Saturday" fire killed 173 people and burned more than two-thousand structures. Later this year, six Erickson Aircranes will be sent to Australia where bushfires are an annual threat to lives and property.
When the Aircranes are sent overseas, they are either sent by ship or by air in the cargo hold of the Russian giant Antonov AN-124, the largest cargo plane in the world.
Erickson Air-Crane has seasonal firefighting contracts with the U.S. Forest Service, Los Angeles City, and Los Angeles County Fire Departments. Internationally, Erickson has contracted with Australia for yearly employment of five Aircrane Helitankers and with the government of Greece for the seasonal use of five Helitankers. Since development of the tank system in 1992, Erickson Air-Crane has sent Helitankers to battle wildfires in 11 countries including the United States and Canada.
About the company:
Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated is the manufacturer and operator of the S-64 Aircrane Helicopter with a fleet of seventeen S-64 Aircrane helicopters worldwide that have operated within sixteen countries since 1971. With a lift capacity of up to 25,000 pounds (11,340 kg), the Aircrane is unsurpassed in performance of Firefighting, Civil Protection, Hydromulch Application, Timber Harvesting, and Power line Construction. Erickson Air-Crane is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified Repair and Overhaul Depot with a comprehensive manufacturing, maintenance, and repair capability. Erickson's worldwide fleet of S-64 Aircranes are supported and maintained from the manufacturing facility located in Central Point, Oregon and the corporate headquarters located in Portland, Oregon, USA
Firefighting with the Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker
The unique and versatile S-64 Aircrane Helitanker features a 2,650 gallon (~10,000 liter) tank with computer controlled tank doors that allow for 8 different coverage levels. The onboard computer actually adjusts for airspeed and opens the tank doors to allow for a flow rate that matches the particular coverage level selected by the pilot. The Helitanker has received certification and approval from the United States Interagency Airtanker Board, which means that the fixed tank on the S-64 Aircrane firefighting helicopter conforms to the same criteria as tanks installed on fixed wing aircraft. Considering the fast refill time of 45 seconds in a water source within a mile of the fire, the Helitanker is capable of delivering up to 30,000 gallons (~114,000 liters) of foam mix, retardant, or water, per hour, to the fire. A special "Sea Snorkel" augments the freshwater fill capabilities of the hover snorkel by refilling the tank in nearby salt water sources as well as fresh water sources. Refill with the Sea Snorkel is accomplished by skimming above the water surface at 35-45 knots as the hydrofoil ram scoop forces water up and into the tank. With the Sea Snorkel, refill can be accomplished in 30 seconds.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) continues to call on Erickson's Helitanker firefighting services. In California, Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments continue to keep a Helitanker in service through Shared Resource and Exclusive Use contracts. Other U.S. agencies have called on the Erickson Air-Crane Helitanker when they were in need of fast and precise suppression of threatening wildfires. These agencies include:
Worldwide agencies contracting Helitanker fire suppression services include:
CENTRAL POINT, OR, USA - Five Erickson Aircrane Helitankers, the most versatile high performance helicopters in the world, are steaming toward Australia by ship to join Australian firefighters gearing up for the 2008 bushfire season.
Two of the Helitankers will be based in Sydney, one in Adelaide and two in Melbourne, including "Elvis" the star of the fleet. "Elvis" the Aircrane gained near cult status in the public after it helped save hundreds of homes during "Black Christmas", the horrible bushfire season of 2001 as part of a massive effort to contain fires tearing through bush left bone dry by drought and fanned by high winds and hot temperatures.
"We feel so close to Australia and the wonderful people down under that it's as if we are fighting to save our own homes," said Udo Rieder, President and CEO of Erickson Air-Crane. "This is our 11th year assisting the heroic firefighters of Australia who are the real heroes risking their lives every single day to protect lives and property. We are very proud of our helicopter pilots and crews as well, who are the best anywhere and extremely dedicated," Rieder added.
The first helitanker will arrive in Australia by early November and the other four by mid-December.
Erickson Aircranes are highly sought after by fire departments around the world because of their unique capabilities. "Elvis" and the other Helitankers have the capacity to dump 9,000 litres of water or fire retardant at speeds and distribution ranges programmed into an onboard computer. Two innovative snorkel attachments for the Helitanker take 45 seconds or less to fill up from any freshwater or saltwater source at least 18 inches deep and have achieved the quickest turn-around times of any air brushfire asset.
The Erickson Aircranes have been locked in by contract for three years with an option for two more years afterwards.
Erickson Aircranes have battled fires in several countries, including Italy, Greece, France, South Korea, Canada and Malaysia. The versatile helicopter has worked in many more countries performing timber harvesting, construction and hydro seeding operations, which jumpstarts foliage growth to keep fire-scorched hillsides from becoming mudslides.
Erickson has also just debuted a new and important capability for response to other kinds of disasters. The Aircrane Incident Response System or AIRS has created great interest from disaster managers for capabilities that include transporting and placing modular containers for command posts, medical triage, and treatment centers in hard to reach areas impacted by disaster. It can carry in water, fuel, generators, and supplies. It has a grapple that can pick up and carry away large pieces of debris from cars to whole trees to big pieces of buildings and bridges.
It even has a huge basket that can carry up to sixty people for use in hi-rise rescues or marine accidents where it is lowered into the water to save lives.
The Aircrane has become so versatile that disaster managers have dubbed it "the Flying Swiss Army Knife".
World leader in aerial firefighting called upon to help save lives and property
Central Point, Oregon, USA - Preparing for the most challenging fire season in recent history, the Los Angeles (City) Fire Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department have obtained two of the largest fixed-tank firefighting helicopters in the world.
The Erickson S-64 Helitanker, known for the extraordinary ability to maneuver and drop up to 2,000 gallons of water, foam mix, or retardant on fires threatening highly populated, high value urban interface areas, has already helped California save homes in Malibu,
Topanga Canyon, Sepulveda Canyon, and others during its 9-year history of working with both City and County departments.
"The Los Angeles County Fire Department looks forward to implementing the immense precision water drop capabilities of the Aircrane Helitanker within our existing fleet to enhance our comprehensive air and ground fire protection program." said Anthony Marrone, Chief of Air Operations for Los Angeles County Fire Department. The Department will employ the Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker for the next 5 years during each fire season to protect homes, wildland, and air quality.
Mission components include a one-of-a-kind water cannon which has the ability to shoot water straight ahead of the helicopter to fight high rise structure fires in addition to the vertical water drop for wildland fire suppression. Soon to be added to the Erickson S-64 Aircrane arsenal is Night Vision Goggle (NVG) technology, which is currently in development with assistance from the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "NVG Technology is the next-stage innovation that will significantly add to the firefighting capabilities of the Aircrane," said Udo Rieder, Erickson Air-Crane Chief Executive Officer. "It will allow us to more rapidly suppress the fires and we look forward to implementing this system with LACo.FD".
Los Angeles (City) Fire Department brings the powerful Erickson S-64 Helitanker into seasonal service for the second year of a three-year contract. Both City and County leased Helitankers are available to either agency as shared resources.
Erickson Air-crane owns and operates a fleet of seventeen S-64 Aircrane helicopters world wide and has operated in sixteen countries since 1971. With a lift capacity of up to 25,000 pounds (11,340g), the Aircrane is unsurpassed in performance of Firefighting and Civil Protection, Hydromulch Application, Timber Harvesting, and Electrical Transmission Line Construction. Erickson Air-Crane is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified Repair and Overhaul Depot.
Erickson's worldwide fleet of S-64 Aircranes are supported and maintained from the administrative and manufacturing headquarters located in Central Point, Oregon, USA
Central Point, Oregon, USA — Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated, manufacturer and worldwide operator of S-64 Aircrane helicopters has, through its affiliated company European Air-Crane S.p.A. (www.european-aircrane.com), signed an 8.5 year aircraft lease contract with the Italian Department of Civil Protection (Protezione Civile Italiana, www.protezionecivile.it) totaling over 200 million Euro for what is the largest aircraft lease in the history of the company. European Air-Crane Chief Executive Officer, Gian Franco Blower, and his team signed the contract with Protezione Civile Italiana on April 28, 2008, guaranteeing the continuity, under the new contract, of the four S-64F Aircranes already in Italy on duty for Fire Suppression, Civil Protection, and Disaster Relief roles throughout the mainland and islands of Italy.
"This new contract underlines the mutual respect and excellent working relationship that has come to being between our companies (Erickson Air-Crane and European Air-Crane) and Protezione Civile Italiana," said Gian Franco Blower. "They, in fact, underlined that our services have provided total excellence in support by means of our S-64 helicopters," he added.
As with all of Erickson Air-Crane's flight operations around the world since 1971, the parts tracking, Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul support will come from the Erickson headquarters in Central Point, Oregon. "Erickson Air-Crane is looking forward to this long term commitment of supporting these Aircranes as they perform their duties for Protezione Civile with the same high standards that have kept all of our worldwide fleet flying for more than thirty-seven years with one of the highest reliability rates in the industry," said Patrick Pilolla, Director of North America Marketing and Product Support.
Erickson Air-Crane has leased its S-64 Aircrane Helitankers to Protezione Civile Italiana since 1999, with its first Helitanker based on the island of Sardegna. Since then, the agency has increased the integration of the Helitanker in its firefighting fleet culminating in this recent contract of four S-64F Helicopters through 2016. "The Erickson Helitanker has become totally integrated into the Protezione Civile fleet both in an organizational and practical sense," said Mr. Blower. A spokesperson for the Department of Civil Protection was also quoted as referring to the Helitanker as "…a great addition to our firefighting and disaster relief capability."
Although the S-64 Aircrane Helitanker has increased in worldwide popularity and use as a premiere firefighting machine, the Aircrane itself has had a long history of performing external load heavy-lift operations such as high-rise building construction, aerial timber harvesting, electrical transmission tower placement, and heavy equipment transportation. Throughout the Italian territory and islands, Protezione Civile has taken advantage of the Aircrane Incident Response Systems (A.I.R.S.) capabilities by utilizing the multi-mission Aircrane in a variety of Disaster Relief / Emergency Response missions. An S-64F airlifted a portable pumping station to drain a glacial lake that threatened to flood the ensuing valley and mountain resort town of Macugnaga in the Northern Italian Alpine region of Piemonte. During the eruption of Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily, two Aircranes were mobilized to support disaster relief operations conducted by Protezione Civile Italiana. One Aircrane, outfitted in the Helitanker configuration, dropped water on the fires started by the lava flow, while the other Aircrane lifted large cement blocks to divert the lava away from nearby villages and pristine forestland. Recently, European Air-Crane employed the S-64 to construct volcanic blast shelters at 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) above the Mediterranean Sea on the volcanic island of Stromboli containing one of the most active volcanoes on earth.
Since the certification of the 2,650-gallon (~10,000 liter) tank system in 1992, the Erickson Air‑Crane S-64 Helitanker has performed as an integral part of U.S. Forest Service Aerial Firefighting Fleet throughout the United States. Worldwide, the Aircrane Helitanker has flown on Wildland, Urban Interface, and Structure Fires in Australia, Korea, Malaysia, Brunei, Italy, Turkey, Greece, France, Canada, and Mexico.
Oregon-based Erickson Air-Crane, Incorporated ("Erickson") has provided strong firefighting support during 2006 as the United States endures its largest wildfire season in over fifty years. Erickson's S-64 Aircrane Helitankers have flown significant firefighting hours this past spring, summer and fall, operating on a variety of fires nationally.
In August and September, five of its signature orange Helitankers worked heavy flight hours throughout the Northwest, Rocky Mountain States and California. With the arrival of fall, Erickson aircraft are available to fight extraordinary fire conditions at the height of southern California's fire season. Reinforcing its commitment to the North American firefighting effort, Erickson earlier this year shifted a helitanker back to the states from fire operations in Europe.
During one of this season's largest wildfires, the 210,000-acre Derby Fire outside Big Timber, Montana, Helitanker 738 performed a variety of suppression missions protecting homes as well as critical natural resources. From direct water dropping support to aerial fire retardant application, Erickson's proprietary helitanker system time and again proved its worth.
Summer-cured grass and low fuel moistures in mountain forests fed intense fire behavior during the Derby incident. Firefighters had to act fast when flames headed towards high-value real estate, critical wildlife habitat and sensitive natural resource areas. In spite of high winds and heavy smoke conditions that frequently grounded fixed wing airtankers, Erickson's Helitanker was still able to assist fire crews working to protect the many values at risk from the fire.
Erickson's tank system allows for maximum flexibility in meeting suppression needs. On the Derby Fire, Helitanker 738 provided firefighters with high-volume direct water drops, delivering thousands of gallons in rapid turnarounds thanks to the many natural fill sites.
The aircraft readily switched to retardant drops when crews required support for burnout operations or structure protection. Firefighters directing drops benefited greatly from the Erickson pilots' abilities to accurately and effectively apply retardant at various coverage levels.
And on another of the 2006 season's major blazes, southern California's Day Fire, the accuracy and volume of Erickson Helitankers helped protect structures and firefighters alike in late September. "The pilots of Helitankers 736 and 742 really saved our backs with water and retardant drops during a blowup in the Lockwood Valley area one Tuesday afternoon during the Day Fire," said one fire captain from a nearby city.
Erickson continues its commitment to North American firefighting operations as it approaches 15 years of providing the industry's most efficient, high-tech firefighting platform, the Helitanker. Having already flown suppression missions on fires decades before, Erickson, in 1992, introduced the industry's first heavy helicopter water and retardant dropping tank system which created the Type 1 "Helitanker." Now an industry standard, the 2,650 gallon (10,000 liter) variable flow fixed tank system introduced benefits of combining the capacity of a fixed wing tanker with the accuracy and precision offered by a helicopter.
The company also became the Type and Production Certificate holder of the Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane series of helicopters in 1992. Since then, it has supplied several Helitankers to worldwide customers including Italy's Forestry Corps and the Korean Forest Service.
Currently, Erickson is actively exploring options for new S-64 production with a number of different firms. The extraordinary ability and investment in producing these "De Novo" heavy-lift, multi-role helicopters further demonstrates Erickson's commitment to staying a leader in the rotary wing services industry.
Whether saving homes in the crowded urban interface, protecting critical natural resources or assisting in the important reintroduction of fire to ecosystems nationally, Erickson stands ready to meet the challenge. Anytime, any emergency or mission, count on the team at Erickson to maximize your response effectiveness.
Central Point, Ore., October 2005 - Aircraft from Oregon-based Erickson Air-Crane, Inc. ("Erickson") have seen significant firefighting hours this past spring, summer and fall in spite of a lower occurrence of wildfires nationally. Sikorsky S-64E and F Model Helitankers crisscrossed the western U.S. to suppress urban interface fires as well as participate in a tactic known as Wildland Fire Use (WFU), assisting in reintroducing fire to ecosystems nationwide.
Since the early portion of last century, forest fires have represented challenges to firefighters. Erickson has flown suppression missions on fires for decades, providing high-volume water drops from its fleet of Sikorsky Skycrane helicopters. The company's development of the industry's first water and retardant dropping tank system led to creation of the "Helitanker," now an industry standard. Erickson also became the type certificate holder of the Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane series of helicopters in 1992.
Today, Erickson assists firefighters in controlling fires yet at the same time allowing the reintroduction of fires in wildlands, simulating the vital role fire historically played in the ecosystem. For centuries, periodic fires swept all parts of the West and U.S., reducing fuel loads and allowing new growth. In the Wildland Fire Use management strategy, a naturally ignited fire will be allowed to burn with minimal intervention from firefighters in order to bring beneficial fire effects to the land.
As stated in federal fire management policies, wildland fire may be used to accomplish a number of resource management purposes, from the reduction of fuel hazards to achieving specific responses from fire-dependent plant species, such as the regeneration of aspen. Often, multiple fire protection and resource management benefits are achieved concurrently.
A particular benefit to "fire-use" is the reduction of heavy fuel loading — crowded small trees and brush - in the nation's wildlands which have allowed several notable fires in recent years to burn out of control with devastating results.
The Helitankers' high volume water drops allow firefighters to maintain control of wildland fire-use fires, yet still "treating" areas previously identified for the reintroduction of fire. In August and September, Erickson Helitankers responded to the Granite Complex Fire, a Wildland Fire Use incident on the Idaho/Oregon border in Hell's Canyon Wilderness and Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA). Eventually spreading to more than 38,000 acres, the Granite Fire burned in an area previously designated for the reintroduction of fire.
Here, Helitankers proved vital in allowing firefighters to keep flames in check. At the tactical level, Erickson aircraft with their industry-first, self-filling water/retardant tanks, brought high-volume aerial drops with precision delivery to firefighters conducting several large burnout operations. Working with ground crews, Erickson Helitankers kept spotfires and flames from overrunning containment lines, allowing the fire to burn in appropriate areas yet avoid escaping fire managers' maximum management area. On other sectors of the fire, when the fire approached certain areas identified as trigger points, firefighters and Helitankers again teamed up to stop the blaze or "herd" it away from a boundary line.
According to federal reports, many more parts of the U.S. and North America are in need of immediate treatment of both live and dead vegetation to prevent large-scale, high-intensity fires and to maintain their sustainability as healthy ecosystems. Implementation policies recognize the importance of often integrating a variety of treatment methods to cost-effectively reduce fuel hazards to acceptable levels and to achieve both ecosystem health and resource benefits. Erickson is prepared to support fire managers' needs in strategic landscape-scale fuel management and fire use planning with aerial platforms that allow confident implementation of policy on a broad scale.
Fire is just one method of fuels management and certainly is not a suitable tool in many areas of the nation, however.
Erickson aircraft have participated for decades in fuels reduction and continue to be ready to assist when goals include mechanical thinning of trees. As a fuels reduction tool with the least ecosystem disruption, helicopter logging has been utilized nationwide by Erickson with proven results as well as economic benefit. Bundle and standing stem harvesting systems developed by Erickson allow extraction of smaller diameter timber for maximum fuels management results with minimal ecosystem intrusion. The Aircrane's impressive hydraulic system allows utilization of several types of hydraulic tools via longline for efficient, cost-effective harvesting of trees.
As invaluable as it is to reintroduce fire, the reality of the urban interface — homes built among the woods and brush fields of our nation - dictates that fires must continue to be aggressively suppressed, and Erickson aircraft have met that need time and again this year. Following numerous responses throughout the West this summer, Helitankers have seen heavy utilization as Southern California's fall fire season heats up.
In late September, Helitanker 748 was among several Erickson aircraft working fires, including the 24,000-acre Topanga Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Aggressive utilization of the Helitanker along with brush clearance ordinances allowed firefighters to protect more than 2,000 threatened residences while losing three homes. Helitanker 736 also responded to a fire in the Burbank area, bringing high volume aerial drops to douse flames burning above residences.
Effective suppression of urban interface fires protects lives and property. Erickson Helitankers take a leading role in dollar-loss prevention during these incidents, continuing their unrivaled ability to control these blazes with high-volume delivery yet low cost per gallon.
Whether saving homes in the crowded urban interface or assisting in the important reintroduction of fire to ecosystems nationally, Erickson stands ready to meet the challenge. Anytime, any emergency or mission, count on the team at Erickson to maximize your response effectiveness.
Athens, Greece — July 7, 2004 — Two Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitankers joined over 200 firefighters on the ground and numerous fixed wing and helicopter firefighters in the air to battle flames, whipped up by 25-35 knot winds and threatening the Olympic Village.
N178AC or "Isabelle" parked at nearby Tatoi Airbase was the among the first aircraft called up to fight the fire burning to the West of Athens. Erickson Command Pilot, Michael Skroch flew the mission with Greek Pilot Panos Kapitanopolis. "High winds were pushing this fire through the dry brush at a fairly high rate speed" says Mike, "As directed by the (Hellenic Fire Brigade ) Incident Commander, we pounded the flanks of the fire and worked very hard towards directing it away from further damage to homes within the (Olympic) Village area."
A second Erickson Helitanker arrived the afternoon of the same day from Andravidha Airbase located near the western coastline of Greece. Keith Gill and Dennis Corrin flew N179AC or "Elvis" along with dozens of fire trucks, fixed wing water dropping aircraft, and other helicopters.
Up to three Erickson S-64 Helitankers have been on duty within the mainland and islands of Greece during fire seasons since 1999 when Erickson Air-Crane introduced the Helitanker to the Greek Fire Service. The success of the Helitanker in Greece is quantified by a short quote from a Hellenic Fire Brigade Official who, after a successful campaign in 2000, said "The S-64 is to firefighting (in Greece) as Coca-Colatm is to beverages."
Los Angeles — Five (5) Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitankers are currently assisting the United States Forest Service in their attempts to suppress some of the largest fires in California's history.
From Friday, October 24 to Wednesday October 29, 2003, the helitankers, stationed at San Bernardino, Rialto, and Van Nuys, have flown in excess of 150 hours battling the "Grand Prix", "Waterman", "Old", and Simi Valley fires. The 2,650-gallon capacity helitankers have been dropping loads of water, foam mix, and fire retardant to accomplish structure fire protection "Our primary mission at this point, mandated by the (U.S.) Forest Service, is to help protect the Firefighters on the ground and save as many homes as we can." Said Paul Mavrinac, Chief Pilot for Erickson Air-Crane. "With ferocious and erratic winds whipping through these neighborhoods, the firefighters are battling incredibly fast moving fires." He added, " the Helitanker provides the protection and support through its ability to surgically deliver large amounts of water, low and tight into neighborhoods at reduced visibility. We are the heavy air support for the guys on the ground."
Erickson Air-Crane is operating the Helitankers under contracts with the United States Forest Service and Los Angeles City Fire Department.
The S-64 "Aircrane" is the largest, most versatile "Standard Category" external load-carrying helicopter in production and operation in the world. Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated, based in Central Point, Oregon, USA, owns, operates, and maintains a fleet of eighteen (18) S-64 Aircrane helicopters. Erickson Air-Crane also manufactures the S-64 as the Type Certificate holder. Erickson combines its unparalleled field operational experience (70,000 flight hours in twelve countries in the last five years) with its engineering and field maintenance staff to provide state-of-the-art customer applications support. Erickson's aircraft sales history began with the purchase of an S-64 Aircrane by the Korea Forest Service in 2001. In August of this year, the Italian "Corpo Forestale Dello Stato" have signed an agreement to purchase four (4) S-64 Aircranes in the Helitanker configuration. Work on the first Helitanker began in October and will continue on the remaining three after delivery of the finished aircraft in Spring of 2004.
Conceived and designed by Igor Sikorsky and originally built and certified by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, the Aircrane is the ultimate vertical lifting machine. The S-64E and S-64F model Aircranes have external load capacity ratings of 20,000 and 25,000 pounds (~9,000 kg and ~11,300 kg) respectively.
Unique to the Aircrane is its immensely powerful hydraulics capability, so critical to its multi-role functions. Loads can be slung passively by "long-line" cables beneath the aircraft, or the powerful on-board hydraulics system may be used to operate specialized equipment to accomplish high performance, minimum impact aerial timber harvesting.
Erickson Air-Crane's exclusive "Anti-Rotation Device" attached to the fuselage of the Aircrane allows for the highest degree of precision helicopter installation capability in the industry. This precision construction capability has been demonstrated for over 30 years with Erickson Air-Crane employing the S-64 to build over 8,000 miles of electrical transmission towers across the United States and Canada.
Loads or equipment can also be attached to eight hard-points on the aircraft. The patented and phenomenally successful fixed tank firefighting system consisting of the 2,650-gallon (~10,000 litre) tank, "Water/Foam Cannon", and the patented seawater / fresh water refill hydrofoil ("Sea Snorkel") makes full use of this capability. Remove the attached tank, add a winch or the load-pendant, and the Aircrane converts to its heavy lift and precision placement role. The basic aircraft and system design provide an open-ended multi-role capability that continues to find new mission possibilities with Emergency Response and Disaster Relief.
Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated has been providing Helitanker firefighting services to the Australian Department of Natural Resources and Environment since December, 1997. In the last four years, the S-64F model Aircrane Helitanker has operated from a base at Essendon Airport near Melbourne in the State of Victoria.
In late December of 2001, a series of fires, some suspected to be arson related, sprang up around the suburbs of Sydney. It was December 27th, when N179AC "Elvis", and S-64F Helitanker, arrived by barge at Swanston Docks near Melbourne. By December 28th, the Helitanker was ready to begin it's yearly contract with pilots Kenny Chapman and Grant White at the controls. Because of the immediate danger the fires presented, the DNRE immediately sent the Helitanker to Bankstown, 15 minutes from Sydney to begin fire suppression efforts in the most threatened areas.
From December 29 until January 4, "Elvis" waged what has become a much publicized war against the flames in Sydney saving an estimated 300 homes, according to news sources. Elvis was brought out to the Blue Mountain region of Woodford to stop the advance of a firestorm threatening a nearby small town.
On January 2, 2002, because of the increasing threat the fires posed and the predictions of more hot dry weather, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service requested the services of two more S-64 Aircrane Helitankers from Erickson Air-Crane. Erickson began immediately mobilizing and preparing two S-64E model Helitankers for the trip to Sydney.
To accomplish the move, Erickson contracted the services of an Antonov AN-124, the largest capacity transport airplane in the air today. The Antonov is operated worldwide by Antonov Airlines based in Ukraine, Russia, (Accurate statistics are available on the web) To prepare and package the helitankers for shipment, Erickson mechanics and crew removed the vertical struts of the two main landing gear legs and installed a special dolly system that raised and lowered the helicopter is it was fit inside the Antonov. The main rotors and tail rotors were also removed and packed for flight along with support pods for both helitankers and miscellaneous supplies and equipment. The entire process began at 7:00a.m. January 4, and ended with both helitankers packed with all of the support equipment by 2:30 a.m. January 5. Approximately four hours later, the Antonov departed Rogue Valley International Medford Airport bound for Sydney International airport. The flight would last approximately 28 hours including a rest and refueling stop in Hawaii along the way.
On the morning of January 7, the Antonov arrived at Sydney International Airport with N154AC "Georgia Peach" and N164AC "Incredible Hulk" inside. Upon arrival, news sources say that customs and inspection procedures were greatly expedited to allow for the two Helitankers to be cleared for flying in Australia as quickly as possible. After unloading, the two aircraft were taken to the nearby Qantas facility to accomplish reassembly and flight status.
The following morning, both helitankers, along with "Elvis" were assigned to an airbase in the town of Nowra, near Sydney. "Incredible Hulk" began immediately fighting the fires dumping an average of 30,000 gallons (~114000 litres) per hour on the fires near Shoalhaven. The following day, "Peaches" began her fire suppression efforts in the same area. "Elvis" had already been fighting the fires in the same region and had been reported by local news sources as assisting in ground firefighting efforts that saved a small coastal resort of Fisherman's Paradise with a population of over 200 residents.
In April of 1998, The Federal Aviation Administration certified a long slender horizontal nozzle attachment for use with the S-64 Aircrane Helitanker. Affectionately dubbed "The Water Cannon", this high powered piece of fire suppression equipment is destined to change the direction of wildland, urban interface and high rise structure fire suppression.
The Water Cannon is nozzle attachment mounted to the forward left side of the Aircrane capable of tilting up or down for increased control of the water stream. Connected to the 2,500 gallon (~9,500 litre) tank, the Water Cannon delivers a horizontal stream of water or foam mix up to 160 feet (~49 m) at a rate of 300 gallons (~1,140 litres per minute). With a full water tank, the cannon system is capable of maintaining the 300 gpm (~1,140 lpm) flow for up to eight minutes.
The Water Cannon was developed from a single simple idea: to get a high intensity stream of water or foam mix into a variety of inaccessible areas threatened by fire or burning. The cannon is seen by many to be an effective tool in fighting high rise structure fires. With the Water Cannon, the Helitanker can hover outside the burning section and direct a constant stream of water or foam mix into and around the blaze. With eight minutes of constant flow, it is possible to suppress dangerous fire blow outs and prevent lapping. With the proper foam mix, the Helitanker Water Cannon can stabilize the critical heat coefficient and cool the load bearing members of the building to prevent collapse.
The Water Cannon can also be used to suppress flammable liquid fires with a special AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) foam mix. When tank vehicles, or even refineries are threatened, the Helitanker can use the cannon to direct a stream of water or foam into the more hard to reach places.
The Water Cannon is currently available as a component to the firefighting tank system configuration of the S-64 Aircrane. In 2001, the Korea Forest Service purchased an S-64 Aircrane Helicopter in the Helitanker configuration which included the Water Cannon.
If you would like more information about the Water Cannon or the S-64 Helitanker, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erickson Air-Crane, manufacturer and operator of the multi-mission S-64 Aircrane helicopter, demonstrated the latest innovation in aerial rescue and transport technology on Wednesday, November 28, 2001.
The Erickson emergency rescue vehicle or "ERV" is an Aluminum alloy lattice frame pod suspended by a 200-foot long line under the S-64 helicopter. Passengers can enter through front sliding doors with extendible ramp and handrails, or through either side as both side panels on the ERV lower when the pod is set on the ground. Flight testing has shown that the ERV can transport at least 60 average sized people at a time.
Erickson Air-Crane has developed the ERV to facilitate large scale evacuations during such scenarios as high rise structure fires, downed aircraft or sinking ships in the water, rescuing firefighters from dangerous wildfire situations, or rescue from any inaccessible disaster area. The ERV can also transport firefighters, rescue personnel, vital supplies, and equipment over any land obstacles on the way to the disaster site. "We've been approached by agencies from a couple of large cities…" said Lee Ramage, Chief Operations Officer for Erickson Air-Crane "…because of our reputation for innovation, they wanted to see what we could come up with." He added.
Pilots Paul Mavrinac and Frank Swisher lifted the ERV from the staging area located behind the Rogue Aggregates sand and gravel plant on Kirtland Road. After hovering for a few moments for photos, they made a quick trip with the ERV and a 10,000-pound payload of sandbags up and over the southern ledge of Lower Table Rock. Erickson Air-Crane flew reporters and journalists from all of the local news agencies up to the top of the rock ledge to gain an up close view of the helicopter and the lifesaving module. After a few maneuvers, the S-64 set the ERV down next to the reporters and landed close by for photo opportunity. Dave Horton, Operations Manager for Erickson guided the S-64 and ERV around the reporters for the most dramatic shots. "Probably the biggest deal was when the ‘crane landed the ERV, lowered the doors, and sat down beside it.", said Dave. "The reporters told me later that the whole thing was a good visual scenario."
Medford, Oregon, April 8, 2001-Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon employed the services of a Russian Antonov AN-124 heavy transport plane to bring an S-64 Aircrane Helitanker to Kimpo Airport near Seoul, Korea for fire suppression duty during the 2001 fire season. The Antonov landed at Rogue Valley International Airport at 3:30p.m on April 8 and The Helitanker was loaded on the plane at 9:00a.m.on April 9.
The Korean Forest Service has recently contracted with Erickson Air-Crane for use of the firefighting helicopter during a 30-day period beginning April 15th with the option to extend after the May 15th deadline. The Helitanker will operate from a Forest Service base in the area of Kangnung on the East Coast of South Korea.
Early Spring drought conditions in the region have created a high risk for wildfires which have already erupted. More than 186 fires have flared up since March 16 in areas near the East Sea. The number represents an 84% increase when compared to the 101 fires that occurred during the same time last year. Of the 104 fires this year which authorities have determined the causes, 80, or 77%, were caused by controlled burning of dry fields and rice paddies, or from the burning of agricultural waste.
Erickson Air-Crane will be sending an S-64E model Helitanker with a firefighting tank system which includes a "water cannon" horizontal delivery nozzle, the shallow refilling "Pond Snorkel", and a newly patented seawater refill scoop or "Sea Snorkel." The Helitanker can drop up to 2,000 gallons of foam mixture, water, or retardant using 8 selectable coverage levels to address different fire scenarios. The "Water Cannon" shoots a stream of water or foam mix up to 160 feet at a rate of 300 gallons per minute and is designed to combat high-rise structure fires. Erickson's firefighting resume during the 2000 fire season alone includes over 1,500 flight hours on wildfires across the globe from Los Angeles, New Mexico, and Idaho, to Italy and Greece.
The Airplane that will take the Helitanker to Korea is the Russian-made Antonov AN-124 "Ruslan" named after the hero of the popular Russian poem "Ruslan and Ludmila" written by Aleksandr Pushkin. The Antonov was designed by the late Design Bureau Chief Oleg Konstantinovich Antonov and is the second largest fixed wing aircraft in the world dwarfed only by its bigger sister, the AN-225 "Mriya" which is no longer in production. The wingspan of the AN-124 measures 240 feet with a total wing area of 6,760 square feet. The Antonov boasts a maximum cargo payload of 370,000 pounds (the weight equivalent of 19 S-64E model Aircranes). The first appearance of the Antonov in the United States occurred during the Aerospace America Airshow at Brown Field in San Diego, California in 1988. Currently, Antonov Airlines operates a fleet of Antonov planes around the world working for private sector clients. The big plane accommodates a crew of 18 with up to 88 passengers and can fly up to 8,640 nautical miles before refueling.
July 26, 2000 - Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon has contracted with the governments of both Italy and Greece to provide Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitankers to support fire suppression efforts during the 2000 fire season. This marks the second consecutive fire season utilizing the Helitanker in each country. In 1999, The Department of Civil Protection in Italy and the Hellenic Republic Fire Department in Greece contracted Helitanker services from Erickson Air-Crane to evaluate, firsthand, the firefighting capability of the Aircrane. Eight years of successful firefighting campaigns in the United States, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and Borneo has established the S-64 Helitanker as the premiere aerial firefighting tool both countries need to drown out the potential of further wildfire disasters.
Both Italy and Greece have suffered intense heat and near drought conditions that have spawned a number of wildfires burning in several forested areas of Italy and the island of Sardegna off the western Italian mainland. According to recent news reports, the Greek Island of Samos has lost half of its forested area.
Two Aircranes in Italy began firefighting operations June 19th with one Helitanker based at Cagliari on the southern coast of Sardegna and the other staged at Fenosu Airport Forestale at Oristano located in the middle of the western coast of the island. Since the beginning of July, both Helitankers flew 112 hours dropping a total of 1,373,850 gallons (5,220,630 litres) of water. On July 24th, a third S-64 Helitanker arrived at Cagliari after the Department of Civil Protection formally requested and contracted for a third Aircrane to participate in urgent fire suppression efforts.
Meanwhile, in Greece, after commencing firefighting operations on July 8th, a single S-64 Helitanker began flying every daylight hour fighting a devastating series of fires off the west coast of the North Aegean Island of Samos. The Helitanker, part of the "Hellenic Fire Brigade", is based out of Megara Army Helibase located 35 miles (64 km) west of Athens. Since being brought on contract July 8th, 2000, the S-64 Helitanker has been flying an average of 10 hours a day dropping over 627,550 gallons (2,384,690 litres) of water on the fires on the North Agean Island of Samos and in the mainland near Athens. According to Bob Madden, Director of European Sales for Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated, "This Helitanker never got the chance to rest when it came over (to Greece) on contract. It started flying almost immediately on fires up to 210 (nautical) miles away. It's been flying 9 and 10 hour days since it got here, which has been necessary because of the extent and risk of these recent fires."
A full time firefighter with the Athens Fire Dept., aged 30, (Katerina Sahinidou), fell over a cliff on a mountain at about 3000 ft. (914 m) elevation and sustained moderate head injuries. The S-64 Helitanker was fighting fire in that area as her team was carrying her up the hillside to an ambulance. After locating and landing at a small clearing, the flight crew loaded her into the helicopter. She was conscious and appeared to have severe bruising and abrasions to her face. She was flown to the "Rio University Hospital" near to the city of Patrai about 20 minutes from the accident site. To evacuate her by ambulance would have taken at least 3-4 hours due to the difficult terrain and roads in the area. Her condition is stable and she is recuperating. The flight crew included pilots Kenny Chapman, Paul Tomich and George Roumbus, a Greek interpreter hired for the flight crew.- Rescue incident Information provided by George Roumbus and Jeff Zuill, Erickson Air-Crane Crew Chief in charge of the Helitanker in Greece.
The Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker is built by attaching a 2,600 gallon (9,800 litre) firefighting tank system to the fuselage of the S-64 Aircrane. The tank system consists of a high volume "Hover Snorkel" that can fill the tank in 18 inches (45 cm) of water within 45 seconds. A special "Sea Snorkel", designed for the tank, augments the freshwater hoverfill capabilities of the hover snorkel by allowing for 45 second refill in nearby saltwater sources. The doors of the tank are controlled by a microprocessor that adjusts for the groundspeed of the helicopter to deliver 8 different coverage levels of water, foam mix, or retardant. The pilot selects a coverage level from 1 gallon per 100 square feet to 8 gallons per 100 square feet. (~4 liters per 10 sq meters — ~30 liters per 10 sq meters) If required, the pilot can dump a salvo of the entire 2,500+ gallon (9,500+ liter) load in less than 3 seconds.
August 31, 1999 - Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated of Central Point, Oregon has made six S-64 Aircrane helicopters available to the California Dept. of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service for firefighting operations in northern and central California.
Three Aircranes have been based at Benton Airport located at the Southeast edge of Redding, California. Since August 24 th , the three Aircranes have been flying an average of 6 hours each day dumping as much as 19,000 gallons of water, per hour, on the fires burning at the "Shasta-Trinity" and "High" Complexes.
Another Aircrane has been based at Redding Municipal Airport and has been under an "Exclusive Use" contract with the U.S. Forest Service primarily fighting fires at the "High Complex" located north of Redding. Over the weekend (August 28 and 29), the Helitanker flew 19 hours dropping over 178,000 gallons of water and retardant on the fires around the complex. According the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, there are Nineteen lightning-ignited fires burning in this complex and "firefighters are continuing to make good progress".
N154AC, an Aircrane Helitanker scheduled to go under an "Exclusive Use" contract with the Los Angeles County Fire Department on September 1st , was released from the Shasta Trinity Complex fires to begin firefighting efforts in Southern California under assignment from the Fire Department.
On Saturday, August 28th , an Aircrane was brought from logging operations in British Columbia, Canada to Redding, California to assist in firefighting efforts on the "High Complex" fire. As of today, August 31, 1999, the High Complex fire is 18,500 acres in size and is estimated by NIFC to be 15% contained.
The sixth Aircrane is based in Oroville, California flying an average of 8 hours a day fighting the "Walker" fire which is one of six fires burning in the "FRRD Complex" located in the Plumas National Forest near Lake Oroville. The six lightning-ignited fires are 3,800 acres in size and are 72% contained, according to information provided by NIFC.
As of today, August 31, 1999, there are currently 23 large fires in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Texas for a total of nearly 150,000 acres. More than 11,000 firefighters are battling blazes throughout the West and are supported by 849 engines, 102 helicopters, 5 airtankers, and 2,059 support personnel.
A fire weather watch has been posted for northern California, predicting gusty winds and low relative humidities that may cause control problems on some of these ongoing fire complexes.
For more fire information, visit the National Interagency Fire Center Website at www.nifc.gov
August, 1999 - An Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker currently contracted to the Greek Ministry of Interior became one of the first American firefighting aircraft sent to Turkey as part of a disaster relief effort from Greece dubbed the "Hellenic Task Force".
At 7:40a.m., on Wednesday, August 18,1999, Helitanker 47 was dispatched from it's base in Ioannina, Greece to the area of Izmit, Turkey 74 kilometers East of Istanbul. The request came from the Greek Government who were also sending fixed-wing firefighting and support aircraft from the Greek Army and Air Force.
In addition to aircraft, Greece sent teams of doctors and rescue workers, medical clinics, generators, and two specialist rescue teams accompanied by sniffer dogs to search for survivors trapped under the rubble.
The Helitanker joined the "Hellenic Task Force" in a firefighting role with the primary mission of combating the immense blaze at the Tupras Oil Refinery located near Izmit. The Tupras Refinery, the country's largest crude oil processing facility, accounts for 35% of the Turkey's oil and natural gas supplies with 30 storage tanks holding over 7 million barrels of crude oil. The storage tanks were at an extreme risk of igniting from the fire since the built-in salt water fire suppression systems were heavily damaged and disabled from the earthquake. Helitanker 47 joined other aircraft in the task of applying a dense mixture of aqueous film-forming foam to tanks surrounding the fire in danger of exploding. The foam mix is designed to suppress flammable liquid fires.
Robert Joseph Madden, Corporate Development Director at Erickson Air-Crane, was one of the first Americans arriving in Turkey as part of the Disaster relief teams sent from Greece. He was accompanied by two Greek fire specialists who provided insight into the fire behavior and provided air attack strategies. A Greek Air Force Lieutenant Colonel was also available to handle logistical challenges. According to Bob; "It was initially difficult to get over the incredible devastation around the (Izmit) area, but all efforts were focused on the immense task of suppressing the rapidly spreading oil and gas fire. All aircraft and ground personnel functioned with the utmost speed and efficiency in a magnificent effort that quite possibly saved the Tupras refinery and surrounding area from complete destruction."
The Aircrane Helitanker (47) commenced firefighting operations upon arrival and refueling at the nearby Topel Naval Air Station at 5:00p.m. local time. In 3.1 flight hours, the Helitanker dropped over 16,400 gallons of AFFF foam mix on areas surrounding the fire. The next morning, the Helitanker began another day of suppression operations resulting in 37 drops of over 79,000 gallons of foam mix applied to the at-risk fire zones. On Friday, the fire was evaluated as being under control and many of the salt water fire suppression systems were brought back online. The firefighting aircraft were released and ground firefighting crews were brought in to extinguish the blaze. Helitanker 47 was released back to the home base in Ioannina, Greece to fight a large wildfire that threatened a nearby town.
Kenneth Chapman, of Medford, Oregon and Al Lange of British Columbia, Canada piloted the Aircrane Helitanker during the operation. Jeff Zuill of New Zealand was the lead mechanic. All members of the crew are Erickson Air-Crane employees.
Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated of Central Point, Oregon will provide the Los Angeles County Fire Department with an S-64 Aircrane "Type 1" Helitanker for firefighting services contracted during the 1999 fire season throughout Los Angeles County. This marks the fourth year that the L.A. County Fire Department has contracted with Erickson for exclusive use of the Standard Category S-64 Aircrane Helitanker.
Under the contract, Erickson Air-Crane will have an S-64 Aircrane Helitanker on station at Van Nuys Airport starting on September 1 st . The Helitanker will have no other commitments than to be available to combat rural, wildland, or urban interface fires as assigned by the Fire Department during the 90-day contract period. This contracted availability will ensure that a high potency firefighting aircraft will always be within effective distance to assist in suppression of fires anywhere within the Los Angeles County area. To complete the highly effective firefighting arsenal, Los Angeles County has also contracted the services of two Canadair CL-415 "Superscoopers" under a similar "Exclusive Use" agreement.
The Aircrane Helitanker based at Van Nuys Airport will not be alone. Another S-64 Helitanker is also stationed at Van Nuys airport as part of an exclusive use contract with the United States Forest Service. Under the highly successful "Contract Air Program", N189AC or "Helitanker 42" will be a shared resource between the U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County providing firefighting services over a greater area as assigned by either agency. The "Contract Air Program" is seeing it's fourth year as a successful partnership between Los Angeles County and the U.S. Forest Service working to ensure a rapid response capability to answer the growing threat of wildland and urban interface fires.
The demand for the precision drop capabilities of the Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker has grown exponentially as the firefighting community has seen the airborne fire engine perform with an effectiveness that has surpassed expectations in Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Oregon. Worldwide, the Helitanker has seen action Canada, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Italy, and Greece.
In 1998, the FAA approved a revolutionary new "Water Cannon" attachment for the Helitanker which shoots a concentrated stream of water, foam mix, or fire retardant up to 160 feet at a rate of 300 gallons per minute. The cannon is the first of its kind and created for specialized fire scenarios such as high-rise structure fires and oil refinery blazes, which could prohibit land based fire suppression efforts.
March 1999 - Washington, D.C. - Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, presented Amos Eno, President of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with a check for $30,000 as a donation to the Wildfire Firefighters Monument which is located in Boise, Idaho. The presentation was made on Thursday evening, March 11, prior to the "Firecamp Reception" held in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Department of Interior in the Nation's Capitol. The reception prefaced the world premiere of a new Imax 70mm documentary titled "Wildfire". The film will begin a national tour and will be available for public viewing in cities with Imax theaters later this month.
"We have a close relationship with the men and women who risk their lives battling wildfires," said Lanny Allmaras, Firefighting representative from Erickson Air-Crane, "Our helicopters work in concert with wildfire fighters and it is an honor to make this donation in memory of the individuals who gave their lives protecting lives and property," added Allmaras.
The new Imax film "Wildfire" features breathtaking action and spectacular footage of one of nature's most destructive forces. The film highlights the courageous efforts of the dedicated men and women who battle these raging infernos. Viewers will follow wildland firefighters into battle and watch as highly trained experts fight the firestorms from the ground and from the air utilizing the most advanced resources available.
The demand for the precision drop capabilities of the Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker has grown exponentially as the firefighting community. The airborne fire engine has participated in fire suppression efforts in Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oregon, and California, as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia, Italy, and Greece.
Aircrane Helitankers are contracted to fight fires by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and by local and state agencies such as the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the California Department of Forestry.
Last year, the FAA approved a revolutionary new "Water Cannon" attachment for the Helitanker which shoots a concentrated stream of water, foam mix, or fire retardant up to 180 feet at a rate of 300 gallons per minute. The cannon is the first of its kind and created for specialized fire scenarios such as high-rise structure fires and oil refinery blazes, which could prohibit land based fire suppression efforts.
Erickson Air-Crane Co. L.L.C. began in 1971 with the lease of a Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane. The Skycrane was to pioneer the first successful use of the helicopter in aerial timber harvesting. . Since that time, Erickson Air Crane has harvested timber in many areas of the United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Canada. The Aircrane was seen in the beginning as a highly efficient harvesting tool, now more lumber companies are choosing the helicopter logging system because of the minimal effect on the forest ecosystem.
Erickson Air-Crane Co. L.L.C. now manufactures, operates, and supports the Skycrane under the name of the Erickson S-64 "Aircrane" helicopter with the largest fleet in the world. The S-64E has a lift capacity of 20,000 lbs (10 tons) at sea level and the S-64F, which was first manufactured by Erickson in 1993, has a lift capacity of 25,000 lbs (12.5 tons) at sea level.
The Aircrane is one of two helicopters in the world with an aft-facing pilot station that allows full positive control of the aircraft while affording the aft pilot a full view of the load being placed. Consequently, the precision installation capabilities of the helicopter with the knowledge, skill, and experience of the pilots, has led to the placement of over 7,000 miles of electrical transmission towers, over 20,000 HVAC units, and high profile operations such as the removal and replacement of the "Statue of Freedom" which sits atop the nation's capitol in Washington DC.
October 7, 1998 - The Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker has given the aviation world cause to sit up and take notice of the revolution that is occurring in aerial firefighting technology. The most unique and versatile helicopter in the world now features a 2,000 gallon (7600 Liter) tank with a variable flow drop system and microprocessor controlled tank doors that allow for 8 different coverage levels. The tank adds the delivery capacity of fixed wing tanker planes to the maneuvering capability of a helicopter. The tank system and the S-64 Aircrane helicopter are manufactured by Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated, of Central Point, Oregon.
So far this year, Erickson Air-Crane has logged over 2,000 hours of firefighting flight time. Among the most notable firefighting missions involved two Aircranes on station in Brunei. In one month period the two firefighting helitankers flew 488 hours (about 8.13 hours/day) and dropped over 12 million gallons (45.6 million liters) of water on the fires. Bruneian Fire Authorities and Erickson staff estimate that the helitankers assisted in controlling 95% of the inferno which was to blame for the deadly haze of smoke that enveloped the country and posed an even greater health threat to citizens. Because of the visibility problem that the immense cloud of haze presented, the choice of aircraft was limited to smaller type III helicopters, the Bruneian military Blackhawks, and the S-64 Helitankers. With the 2,000 gallon (7600 liter) tank attached directly to the fuselage, the Aircrane was able to make low approaches to the hot spots underneath the advancing smoke and attack the fires with great precision.
Not too long after in the United States, hundreds of lightning strikes ignited the drought stricken swamplands and underbrush of northern Florida, creating one of the largest fires in the state's history. Firefighting aircraft as well as personnel and equipment, were mobilized from across the United States to assist in controlling the fast moving brush fire that threatened to engulf over one third of the state. Erickson Air-Crane responded to the call and sent 5 helitankers to assist in controlling the blaze. Over a 25 day period, two of the firefighting S-64's flew 139 hours dropping over 2 million gallons (7.6 million liters) of foam mix and water and averaging delivery of over 19,000 gallons (72,200 liters) per hour. The high volume snorkel attachment allowed for quick refill in the shallow "gator ponds" and streams close to the fire and gave the helitankers a needed advantage against the many rapidly spreading brush fires. Another advantage that has proven consistent with the Aircrane Helitanker was the ability to fly in conditions of reduced visibility that prohibited many fixed wing tanker planes and even some helicopters carrying buckets. In many cases, because the tank is bolted directly to the fuselage, the helitanker was able to hover and drop it's load at lower altitudes below the thick plumes of smoke that would have presented a problem to helicopters with buckets suspended 100-200 feet (30-60 meters) below.
It's an all too familiar scenario. You are stuck in a freeway traffic jam caused by what looks like a tanker truck overturned almost 100 feet ahead of you. A look at your watch says you are 15 minutes late for work already and blood pressure is starting to rise. Suddenly, a deafening noise jerks you upright and you feel a blast of hot air as the overturned tanker explodes, sending a bright orange fireball that engulfs several nearby vehicles. The sickening odor of gasoline permeates the air. A fuel tanker truck has just ignited.
Within minutes, the whine of turbine engines fills the air as a big orange helicopter arrives and hovers near the wreckage. A long stream of white liquid erupts from a nozzle at the front of the helicopter and begins to coat the burning tanker with a thick foamy substance that extinguishes the firestorm leaving only a steaming hulk of twisted metal. Many vehicles close to the wreck are still burning as people rush for safety. The Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitanker rises above the billowing smoke and heads toward the burning vehicles. Two doors open beneath the Aircrane's huge 2,000 gallon tank, and a surge of foam and water mix pours out over the vehicles. The fires are out and the Fire trucks are still stuck in traffic.
It was this type of situation among others that prompted a demonstration of the variety of urban and wildland firefighting missions possible with the S-64 Aircrane Helitanker. Erickson Air-Crane flew an S-64E with the firefighting tank attachment and water cannon for high ranking officials of the Los Angeles City Fire Department and members of the city council on September 29, 1998. The demonstration involved three scenarios
The first was a visual comparison between the 360 gallon water drop capability of the Bell 412, which is owned by L.A. City, and the Erickson Helitanker, which features 8 selectable flow rates and holds 2,000 gallons of water, foam mix, or retardant. With the growing number of urban/forest interface areas in L.A. County, more attention is being directed towards finding effective firefighting tools with which to combat wildland fires and reduce the threat to life and property.
The second scenario illustrated the proficiency of the water cannon in applying Class "B" AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) to a flammable liquid tanker fire. The surfactant qualities of the foam allow it to coat the flammable liquid and provide a seal from outside oxygen sources which effectively smothers the fire. The Aircrane hovered close to a demonstration tank and activated the water/foam cannon to spray the AFFF foam mix. The cannon operates from aircraft hydraulic power to force a stream of water or foam mix up to 160 feet at a rate of 300 gallons per minute. From a full water tank, the cannon provides a sustained flow for up to eight minutes. With the success of the demonstration, possibilities arise for suppression of aircraft fires and oil refinery fires with a quicker response time and a wider variety of attack positions from the air.
The third situation proposed the Helitanker as a powerful and efficient tool for providing support to ground fire apparatus. Within minutes, the Helitanker can be in the air and filling up the 2,000 gallon tank for transport to an engine company needing refill in a remote location with no available water source. In the demonstration, the Helitanker filled its tank in 45 seconds and landed near an L.A. City Fire Department tanker truck simulating an actual firefighting mission. The engine crew quickly made use of a 3 inch camlock adapter to attach a hose connecting the water cannon to the tank of the fire engine. Within minutes the Aircrane Helitanker was pumping foam mix through the fire engine nozzle and onto the simulated flammable liquid tanker fire.
July 6, 1998 - Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon has sent two more S-64 Aircrane helicopters to a staging area at Tallahassee, Florida. The aircraft were sent to fulfill another order for Type 1 (Heavy lift) helicopters issued by the Interagency Fire Center at Boise, Idaho on behalf of the FEMA. As of today, both aircraft are en route and should arrive this evening. The two arriving helicopters will join the three Erickson Helitankers already fighting fires in areas around Lake City and Deland, and as far north as the Georgia border.
The Erickson Helitankers have primarily been assigned initial attack for the many smaller spot fires and swamp fires around the region. The quick, shallow refill capability and turn around times have been a definite advantage according to Kenny Chapman, pilot and Firefighting Manager for Erickson Air-Crane. "The Aircrane was able to refill from the small swamp holes and gator ponds that had hampered efforts of most of the other firefighting aircraft."
The Erickson Air-Crane "Helitanker" uses a revolutionary 2600 gallon tank system that delivers precise amounts of water, foam mix, or retardant at 8 different coverage levels through the use of microprocessor controlled tank doors. A high volume snorkel attachment uses aircraft hydraulic power to operate a motorized impeller that allows for an average refill time of 45 seconds in any water source as shallow as 18 inches.
The helitankers arrive after very successful firefighting campaigns in Mexico, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.
July 1998 - Air Attack coordinators and incident commanders have expressed their relief and optimism at the arrival of two Erickson S-64 Aircrane Helitankers to Deland and Lake City Florida. Many have expressed a sense of awe at the delivery capacity and turn around times of the Aircrane as it averaged 2-3 minutes per turn and delivered up to 2500 gallons each attack. The "Helitankers" are currently fighting fires under a FEMA support contract which allows them to be called to any fire within the areas that FEMA has control. One Helitanker is fighting several small 10 acre fires around the area of Deland in Volutia County. Because the Aircrane can carry a tank system securely to the fuselage, the Erickson Helitankers have been able to fly low under the advancing smoke and directly attack the leading edge of the fires. This has been an advantage due to the immense amount of smoke generated by the burning dry swampland and brush land.
Another Helitanker has been fighting a series of arson related fires in the area of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is on standby at the moment.
A fourth Helitanker is en route to Austin, Texas, where it will assume a standby position as well.
Erickson Air-Crane currently operates the largest fleet of Aircranes in the world as the type certificate holder, manufacturer, and largest operator of the aircraft. The Company employs 375 people in field maintenance and operations as well as at the Central Point, Oregon, repair and overhaul facility.
June 1998 - Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon has sent an S-64 Aircrane helicopter to assist with the suppression of several large fires that are burning near Chiapas, Mexico. N154AC (Georgia Peach) began fire suppression efforts on May 18 th near the Rio Blanco River, north of Tehuantepec. Chief Pilot, Paul Mavrinac, flew the first sortie under "…high winds" and even had to land the helicopter many times because of poor visibility. This was due to the immense clouds of smoke generated from what is being called "The Rio Blanco Fire." One of the first missions involved assisting fire suppression efforts that halted a blaze threatening a small village on the Rio Blanco River. The Aircrane is based near the fire inside a Mexican military base at Ixtepec. Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated, under contract with SEMARNAP, the Mexican Federal Natural Resources Department, is implementing a highly innovative tank system designed to deliver up to 30,000 gallons of water, foam mix or retardant per hour.
"The Helitanker" has been gaining much praise for successful fire fighting operations in Australia, Brunei, and in Canada during the latest outbreak in the Alberta Highlands.Erickson Aircrane in Australia
Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon, owner of the largest fleet of S-64 Aircrane Helicopters in the world, recently contracted with the Australian Department of Natural Resources and Environment through Hevi Lift PTW, LTD, of Papua New Guinea for use of the helicopter and "Helitanker" attachment during the 1998 fire season.
No sooner did the helicopter arrive when a series of brush fires sprang up from repeated lightning strikes and threatened the Eastern Highlands of the State of Victoria, or "Gippsland." Because of the volatile properties of the eucalyptus vegetation and the steep slopes of the mountain range, a fast effective firefighting tool was needed. The Aircrane helicopter and Helitanker attachment went to work immediately dropping water, foam mix, and retardant at selectable coverage salvos of 100 to greater than 800 gallons per second. Fire Managers and Air Attack Supervisors found the best use of the Helitanker in suppressing the running edge of many of the smaller "Bush fires" to prevent formation of a larger, more threatening firestorm. Because of the innovative snorkel attachment for the Helitanker, which allows for a 45 second fill-up time in any water source at least 18 inches deep, the helicopter achieved some of the quickest turn-around times utilizing the nearby "Wonnangata" River for fast water delivery. According to Hayden Biggs, Air Attack Supervisor during the fire, ground troops and air attack personnel were amazed at the volume and precision delivery accomplished by the S-64 Aircrane Helitanker, thereby attaching the moniker "Eric The Water Bomber" to the helicopter.
Not long after, more lightning strikes sparked a crown fire inside a 20-year-old Pine plantation in the area of Frankston, north of Melbourne. Because of environmental restrictions against building roads into the fire site, a ground attack was ruled out leaving an air attack the most immediate and critical option in suppressing the potentially devastating blaze. Air Attack Supervisor Hayden Biggs assigned the S-64 Aircrane Helitanker to attack the fire directly. And, in what fire managers have called "the significant turning point," the helicopter dropped over 40,000 gallons of water "successfully checking the leading edge of the fire."(Photo courtesy of DNRE) Erickson Aircrane filling its 9000 litre tank from Lake Tarli Karng