A third Air-Crane is now under contract in Victoria

Erickson Incorporated has been contracted through Australian partner Kestrel Aviation for a third S64E Aircrane helitanker to support firefighting efforts in the State of Victoria, Australia. In total, Erickson has six Aircranes currently working in the country.

Erickson Air-Crane
Photo by Erickson Air-Crane

The third Aircrane, previously stationed in Sydney, New South Wales to fight fires, has been reassigned to Mangalore, Victoria. The Aircrane will be available as required for the remainder of the fire season.

The S64 Aircrane can drop 2,650 gallons (7,500 liters) of water on fires in a single pass. With specialized snorkels, the Aircrane can also refill the tank in nearby bodies of water in less than 30 seconds.

Erikson Inc. aircrane part of deal to help fight fires in Turkey

S-64E Aircrane, Erickson Inc.
S-64E Aircrane, Erickson Inc.

Erickson Inc. will be sending an S-64E Aircrane to Turkey to help fight wildfires, as a part of an agreement with Pan Aviation, Erickson announced on Aug. 24.

The Aircrane will be working around Istanbul and in the surrounding areas of Turkey for 365 days a year for two years. The contact was signed after a 10-month trial period with Istanbul. The aircraft will be based at the Ataturk International Airport, and will be available upon special request to areas outside of Istanbul.

Erickson Air-Crane on the Rough Fire

Erickson Air Crane / Kings Canyon Wildfire Aug 9, 2015 from Brandon Setter on Vimeo.

This is a professional quality video of an Erickson Air-Crane drafting water and dropping on the Rough Fire on the Sierra National Forest in California.

The Rough fire has burned about 5,200 acres two miles southwest of Spanish Mountain, 45 air miles east of Fresno, California.

The southwest portion of the fire can be viewed on the Buck Rock web cam.

Wednesday additional overhead from a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team will join the Sierra National Forest’s Type 3 organization in managing the fire.

Rough Fire, August 11, 2015
Rough Fire, August 11, 2015. SWFRS web cam.

A Request

While this is a very good video, I have a request for everyone who shoots footage of aircraft dropping on a fire. After the liquid is released from the aircraft, stop panning and show us where the water or retardant lands. The air tanker or helicopter exiting the drop area is often, but not always, the least visually interesting part of the process.

And if it is a water drop, which is often DIRECTLY on an actively burning flank of the fire (as opposed to a retardant drop that is usually offset from the flames), linger for 5 or 10 or more seconds so that we can see the effects of the drop. Do the flames diminish, or not? Is smoke replaced with steam? Some of the veteran camera operators for the TV stations in southern California do this.

Am I the only one that wants to know if the drop was, 1) on target, and 2) effective?

Air-Crane at Roseburg, Oregon being prepped for SoCal contract

Erickson Air-Crane, Roseburg
An Erickson Air-Crane at Roseburg, Oregon, August 4, 2015. Photo by Kelly Andersson.

Kelly Andersson took these photos at Roseburg, Oregon on August 4 of Erickson Air-Crane’s H-731 Gypsy Lady as it was getting serviced before starting a contract for Los Angeles County on August 15. Two CL-415 Super Scoopers leased from the government of Quebec will also begin working for the County on August 15, two weeks earlier than usual.

Erickson Air-Crane Roseburg
An Erickson Air-Crane at Roseburg, Oregon, August 4, 2015. Photo by Kelly Andersson.

10 things to know about the Air-Crane

Helicopter 743, an Erickson Air-Crane
Helicopter 743, an Erickson Air-Crane, drafting retardant on the Beaver Fire in northern California, August 12, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

10 things to know about the Erickson Air-Cranes:

  1. The tank can hold 2,500 gallons (9,500 liters) of water or retardant.
  2. It has a fuel capacity of 1,300 gallons (4,900 liters).
  3. Erickson Air Crane Company bought the manufacturing license and type certificate from Sikorsky in 1992.
  4. It’s predecessor was the military version, the CH-54 Tarhe.
  5. It has an optional front-mounted water cannon that can shoot water horizontally at 300 gallons per minute.
  6. Erickson assigns the helicopters names, i.e., Elvis, Incredible Hulk, Isabelle, and Olga.
  7. Air-Cranes lifted and installed the top section of the CN Tower in Toronto, and the statue on the top of the U.S. Capitol building.
  8. It cruises at about 105 mph (169 k/h).
  9. The tank can be refilled by pumping directly into it through a hose, drafting through a suction hose, or using an optional skimming tube which can be lowered as the helicopter flies near the surface of a body of water. Drafting or skimming takes 45 seconds.
  10. It carries a crew of three: two pilots and an observer.

Air-Cranes for high-rise fires?

The video has an animated demonstration of how Erickson Air-Cranes might use a front-mounted water cannon and a personnel rescue basket on high-rise fires. The water cannon has been around for a while, as you can see in this 2011 video, but I have not heard of it being actually used on a structure fire. Does anyone have more information?

Erickson Air-Crane — As the Rotors Turn, 2012

This video, titled “As The Rotors Turn with Erickson Air-Crane 2012”, was published to YouTube September 7, 2014, by BDudasProductions. On January 5 we posted another video about the Air-Cranes that covered the years 2007-2011.