Personnel from Nevada this week conducted aerial fire suppression and water bucket training on the heels of a wet winter and ahead of what could quickly turn into a very active summer for area firefighters.
Training throughout the week included several scenarios that mirrored real situations.
Paul Filmer took some excellent photos of aircraft working on the Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park west of Estes Park, Colorado, December 4, 2012. The photo above is the first one I can remember seeing of an air tanker dropping with snow in the background.
We thank Paul for allowing us to use his photos. You can see a couple of dozen more that photos he took December 4 at his web site. More information about the Fern Lake Fire can be found at Wildfire Today.
Erickson Air-Crane, a company in Portland, Oregon, that builds, operates, and sells Erickson S-64 heavy-lift helicopters, intends to purchase Air Amazonia, a subsidiary of HRT Participacoes, a company in Brazil, along with their 14 helicopters.
Erickson’s Air-Cranes are used extensively in fighting wildland fires. At least 15 Air-Cranes or Ch-54 helicopters were on contract with the U.S. Forest Service in 2012. The company has been sending some of the ships to Australia since 1998 to fight fires there during the down-under summer, which of course is winter in the United States. During the 2011-2012 summer there, Erickson had three of them in Australia — aircraft named Elvis, Elsie, and Marty.
“It plays well to our unique capabilities,”Udo Rieder [Erickson’s president and chief executive officer] said during a conference call with analysts on Wednesday.
He said the deal for 14 medium and light helicopters will significantly increase Erickson’s capability in South American markets, adding revenue and making good use of the company’s capital.
“It will reduce the impact of the seasonality of our business and expand our footprint in the gas and oil industry,” Rieder said.
HRT owns seven Sikorsky-61 aircraft, which are smaller but have many similarities to Erickson’s current fleet.
“We’ve always talked about adding medium-lift capability to our operation,” Rieder said. “It’s complementary to our business. The S-61s are little sisters to the air-cranes. Many of the parts are similar and some are identical — the cockpits are the same. This would give us quite a bit more capability at our Central Point facility. This will provide a platform to bring in S-64s and exchange equipment fairly quickly in Brazil and Peru.”
He said the company is unsure of what it will do with the Bell 212s and Eurocopter AS-350s that are part of the deal.
“We have the option to move them anywhere we want near-term,” he said. “We’ll wait and see what the demand is, but we’ll pretty much absorb all the aircraft there.”
The deal, however, isn’t expected to close until the second half of 2013, Rieder said, because of “fairly complex regulatory requirements and licensing matters.”
Below is a portion of the text from an announcement by Erickson:
Erickson Air-Crane Inc. Announces Letter of Intent to Acquire Brazilian Oil and Gas Aerial Services Business
Plans Purchase of Air Logistics Business from HRT Participaes em Petroleo, S.A.
Early Stage Transaction Announcement, Closing Expected in Second Half 2013
14 Aircraft Fleet to Position Company as a Leading Air Services Provider in Brazil
PORTLAND, Ore. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — Nov. 6, 2012 — Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated (NASDAQ: EAC) (Erickson Air-Crane or the Company), a leading operator and the manufacturer of the powerful heavy-lift helicopter, the Erickson S-64 Aircrane, today announced that it had entered into a non-binding letter of intent to acquire 14 helicopters and associated personnel and assets from HRT Participacoes em Petroleo, S.A. (HRT).
The letter of intent is non-binding and, for the acquisition to be completed, requires that EAC provide operational services to HRT in the Amazon, including both cargo and passenger transport, through a three-year, renewable contract.
Udo Rieder, Chief Executive Officer of Erickson Air-Crane, commented, We are very pleased to have identified what we believe is a strong future partner. Were confident that this acquisition can be an excellent path to diversification and growth. Brazil is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing industrial markets in the world and we are uniquely suited to provide our expertise and leverage the full capabilities of this fleet and our investment.
About Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated
Erickson Air-Crane specializes in the operation and manufacture of the Erickson S-64 Aircrane (the Aircrane), a versatile and powerful heavy-lift helicopter. The Aircrane has a lift capacity of up to 25,000 pounds and is the only commercial aircraft built specifically as a flying crane without a fuselage for internal loads. The Aircrane is also the only commercial heavy-lift helicopter with a rear load-facing cockpit, combining an unobstructed view and complete aircraft control for precision lift and load placement capabilities. Erickson Air-Crane owns and operates a fleet of 18 Aircranes, which are used to support a wide variety of government and commercial customers worldwide across a broad range of aerial services, including firefighting, timber harvesting, infrastructure construction, and crewing. Erickson Air-Crane also manufactures Aircranes and related components for sale to government and commercial customers and provides aftermarket support and maintenance, repair, and overhaul services for the Aircrane and other aircraft. Founded in 1971, Erickson Air-Crane is headquartered in Portland, Oregon with its principal manufacturing facility based in Central Point, Oregon. For more information, please visit http://www.ericksonaircrane.com.
You may have heard about the wildland firefighter who was rescued from an approaching fire by climbing into a water bucket below a helicopter and being extracted to safety. The story was first written up on our sister site Wildfire Today on October 1, 2012, and the followup details from a Facilitated Learning Analysis were posted there October 24.
Some of us were wondering what the official response from the U.S. Forest Service would be. Might they throw the book at him for violating the rules? However, I doubt if there is a rule that says “Thou shalt not transport a human in a helicopter’s water bucket”. The USFS is not known for bleeding edge innovation in their aviation program. Most deviation from standard procedure is strongly discouraged. And rightfully so in most cases. You don’t want to screw around with rules that provide for the safety of pilots and firefighters.
Fire Aviation is now able to disclose, with his permission, that the pilot was Joseph Berto. Congratulations to Mr. Berto! He may have saved the life of a firefighter.
Much to our surprise, the USFS officially commended Mr. Berto by presenting to him the following plaque.