ABOUT Erickson History
"In the Beginning..." the origins of Erickson Air-Crane
In 1971, Erickson Lumber Company, owned by second-generation logger and entrepreneur, Jack Erickson, leased an S-64E Skycrane helicopter from Sikorsky Aircraft and renamed the company Erickson Air-Crane. This occurred two years after the FAA announced a Standard Transport Category certification of the aircraft for loads up to 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg). At that time, many small operations around the world and particularly in Russia were experimenting with helicopter logging with little success due to the high cost of flying the helicopters. Mr. Erickson realized the specialized nature of the Skycrane and used his years of experience in the logging industry to gain the maximum benefit from this heavy lift helicopter. This system proved to be consistently profitable and led to the purchase of the first S-64 Skycrane in 1972, followed by the purchase of three more aircraft later that same year. 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 also choosing the Aircrane logging system because of the minimal effect on the forest ecosystem and the access it affords to steep remote terrain.
"Power in the Air" -- A brief description of the Aircrane
The Erickson S-64 Aircrane is manufactured by Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated which is headquartered in Central Point, Oregon. The aircraft was originally manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft as the S-64A "Skycrane" and sold to the Army as the CH-54A "Tarhe". The CH-54 performed with an outstanding service record in Vietnam supporting the Army's First Cavalry Division, Airmobile by retrieving over 380 damaged aircraft, saving an estimated $210 million. The S-64 was the first helicopter built as a flying crane with an aft-facing pilot station that gives the pilot an unobstructed view of the load being carried and full positive control of the aircraft during precision operations.
The rotor system consists of a six-blade fully articulated main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor. The S-64E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney turbine engines generating a combined maximum takeoff rating of 9,000 SHP, giving the S-64E model an external load lift capacity of 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) at sea level. The S-64F features a strengthened airframe, a rotor system with longer chord length, and two Pratt and Whitney engines rated at 9,600 SHP which gives the S-64F model an external load capacity of 25,000 pounds (11,340 kg) at sea level
Following the civilian certification of the S-64E in 1969, Sikorsky Aircraft developed and tested several commercial applications of the Skycrane, one of which was the construction of electric cable transmission towers. The Skycrane was found to be well suited to this type of precision work.
Erickson Air-Crane began using the Aircrane for power line construction in 1972 while working as a subcontractor for utilities such as the Bonneville Power Administration, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison Company. Shortly after, Erickson became a prime contractor to demonstrate the full benefit of the Aircrane as it relates to every phase of the project. As prime contractor, Erickson Air-Crane completed over 1,000 miles (1600 kilometers) of power lines, bidding against conventional land-based methods and covering all types of terrain and climate. Today, Erickson primarily operates as a subcontractor, with the experience gained as a prime contractor fully available to assist with the planning and execution of any tower construction project from 110 kV wooden H-frame structures to the larger 765 kV guyed structures. Since 1971, Erickson Air-Crane has constructed over 8,000 miles (12,800 kilometers) of electrical transmission towers across North America.
The Aircrane has also proven itself in other areas of heavy lift construction. Since 1971, Erickson has worked with many "Fortune 500" companies in the U.S. Canada, and Europe delivering and installing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units as well as other types of construction work. From airlifting and installing ski lifts, to installation of delicate steel artwork, the Erickson S-64 Aircrane has transported a vast number of unique objects.
One of the first record-breaking projects involving Erickson Air-Crane was the construction of the CN Tower in Ontario, Canada. In 1975, Canron Steel Manufacturers of Canada contracted Erickson Air-Crane for assistance in the construction of the world's tallest freestanding structure, towering at an altitude of over 1,850 feet (564 meters). The Aircrane transported and placed the 7 ton steel sections that made up the antenna and weather metering systems and brought the monumental two-year project to a successful close.
In 1983, U.S. Borax was involved in assessing one of the largest deposits of molybdenum in America. The site was located in the remote mountain region of Quartz Hill, Alaska, approximately 120 miles (192 kilometers) east of Ketchikan. Erickson Air-Crane was contracted to airlift large construction equipment for use in building a 9-mile (14.4 kilometer) access road to the site that would facilitate the assessment operation. Erickson personnel assisted in the breakdown of the heavy equipment into maximum lift configurations.
The Aircrane transported 1,100 tons of heavy construction equipment and supplies during a four-day period. This is believed to be the world's largestcivilian airlift operation. Since then, Erickson has flown the S-64 Aircrane in North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and South America, in large scale delivery and installation operations including mining, wind energy, and emergency response equipment.
In 1992, Erickson purchased the Type Certificate to the Sikorsky S-64E and S-64F model Skycranes, and the aircraft designation was changed to the "S-64 Aircrane" helicopter.
The year 1992 also saw the development of a 2,650- gallon (~10,000 liter) tank attachment for the S-64 featuring a metered flow drop system with computer-controlled tank doors that allow for eight different coverage levels. A high volume "Hover Snorkel" hose uses a self-priming hydraulic pump to fill the tank in 45 seconds in any water source as shallow as 18 inches (45 cm). A ram scoop hydrofoil or "Sea Snorkel" skims the surface of sea water or salt water sources to fill the tank in less than 30 seconds. The tank system combines the carrying capacity of conventional fixed-wing firefighting aircraft with the maneuvering capability and precision drop patterns offered by a helicopter. The result is a highly effective aerial firefighting system that continues to exceed expectations of fire managers and air attack coordinators with remarkably short turn-around times and precision high-volume delivery of water, foam mix, or retardant at up to 30,000 gallons (11,356 liters) per hour.
By 1993, Erickson Air-Crane became the manufacturer and support facility for all S-64 parts and components. The Central Point facility supports Aircrane operations in the U.S. and around the world. The crowning achievement, in Erickson's manufacturing capability, came when the very first FAA certified S-64F model rolled off of the assembly line on January 12, 1993. N158AC/"Goliath" featured a strengthened airframe with modifications by Erickson that met or exceeded FAA standards, and a lift capacity 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg) greater than the previous "E" models. In 2007, the United States Federal Aviation Administration presented Erickson Air-Crane with the Full Production Certificate which allows the company to manufacture newly built Erickson S-64's under the Erickson-owned H6EA Type Certificate.
A major landmark in the history of helicopter heavy lift operations occurred in 1993 when Erickson Air-Crane contracted with the Architect of the Capitol and the United States Government to remove and replace the "Statue of Freedom" which sits atop the United States Capitol Dome in Washington D.C. In two high profile events representing a victory for private sector air services over the traditional use of National Guard Resources, the Aircrane lifted the lady off of her pedestal on May 9, 1993 and placed her safely back after much needed renovation on October 23, 1993. The helicopter received worldwide attention and demonstrated the heavy lift and precision placement capability that makes the Erickson S-64 Aircrane the leader in heavy lift helicopters
"Into the Next Millennium"
Timber Harvesting operations have comprised the largest use of flight hours on a consistent basis since the beginning of the company. The Aircrane is not bound by the limitations of conventional logging practices that gives more options in forest ecosystem management and makes the Aircrane a favorable harvesting option to timber companies forced to become more environmentally conscious
The Aircrane's precision installation capability has been used to successfully place more than 40,000 heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units for fortune 500 companies in North America and Europe since the early 70's.
Since the creation of the 2,650-gallon (~10,000 liter) tank system in 1992, the firefighting community has taken notice of the revolutionary "Helitanker" firefighting system created by Erickson Air-Crane. At every fire in which the Helitanker has participated, the fire crews involved expressed amazement at the precision delivery capability and volume of delivery consistently given by the high tech Erickson firefighting system. The Helitanker continues to act as the mainstay of U.S. Forest Service Aerial Firefighting Fleet performing on regional "Exclusive Use" contracts through the United States. Worldwide, the Aircrane has combated Wildland, Urban Interface, and Structure Fires in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Greece, France, Turkey, Croatia, Malaysia, Brunei, Australia, and Korea.
The FAA certified a horizontal monitor "Water Cannon" attachment for the Helitanker in November 1997. The cannon uses aircraft hydraulic power to propel a focused stream of water or foam mix up to 150 feet (49 meters) at a rate of up to 300 gallons (1,130 liters) per minute. The cannon was created to fight high rise structure fires in congested urban areas, but has since seen innovative possibilities such as remote support for firefighting vehicles needing a supply of water or foam mix and application of flame retardant gel on structures or equipment threatened by fire.
The main maintenance and overhaul facility located at Central Point, Oregon employs more than 500 people providing logistical and manpower support for Erickson's fleet of S-64 Aircranes around the world. The capabilities range from manufacture of new serial number S-64 Aircranes under the H6EA type certificate, to overhaul and repair of engine components and airframe repair and modification.
Our international subsidiary companies occupy aerial timber harvesting, fire suppression, and heavy construction markets in Canada, Malaysia and Europe.
Canadian Air-Crane Ltd., located in British Columbia, Canada, has performed aerial operations in and around the province of British Columbia since 1985. Canadian Air-Crane is engaged in operating partnerships with various timber harvesting companies during all season of the year. Canadian Air-Crane has routinely provided aerial firefighting and heavy construction services throughout Canada.
Erickson Air-Crane Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., located in Miri, Malaysia, has performed environmentally sound tropical timber harvesting in Eastern Malaysia since 1993. Using a hydraulic grapple suspended from a long line, we operate the helicopters under a "Minimum Impact Logging" philosophy that has attracted the attention of the environmentally conscious Forestry Departments in Sarawak and its provincial neighbor, Sabah.
European Air-Crane S.p.A., with headquarters in Florence, Italy, is the headquarters for all European operations and is the only EASA certified and authorized S-64 Aircrane operator in Europe. The company has operated in Europe since 1999, the Aircrane is the premier civil protection platform in Italy, France and Greece.