Coulson adding UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters to their fleet

By 2020 the company expects to have 10 additional helicopters between the two types.

Coulson-Unical CU-47 CU-60
Coulson-Unical CU-47 and CU-60 in Atlanta.

Coulson Aviation is expanding their aircraft fleet. Until a few weeks ago the company had four C-130 type fixed wing air tankers, one converted Boeing 737 air tanker (with another that is 60 percent complete), and a mixture of five S-61 and S-76 helicopters.

Today Coulson announced a new partnership with Unical Air, a new unit of the Unical Group of Companies. The organizations have joined forces to create a heavy lift helicopter joint venture company that will build and operate Boeing CH-47 and Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk aircraft for aerial firefighting and other markets. Coulson’s expertise in the operation of heavy lift and firefighting helicopters will mesh with Unical Air’s abilities in supply chain, and parts, plus aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and component repair and overhaul (CRO).

Coulson-Unical CU-47 helicopter
The first Coulson-Unical CU-47 lands in a remote area east of Albuquerque February 24, 2019. Coulson photo.

“When we met Unical, our companies meshed very well,” Britt Coulson, Coulson Aviation’s vice president, said. “Since both are family owned and extremely passionate about what we do, it was a natural fit to work together. Others that have bought either of these types has struggled with serviceability and parts support and with our partnership we are confident that will not be an issue.”

The capabilities of the helicopters will include night-vision, IFR navigation, and hover filling.

Coulson-Unical CU-47 helicopter CH-47
The engineering design for the water/retardant delivery system on the Coulson-Unical CU-47. Coulson image.

At least some of the newly acquired CH-47s and UH-60s will be outfitted with RADS internal tanks. The basic design of the RADS was created by Aero Union decades ago and features steep slopes on the sides when space allows, to facilitate enough head pressure at the bottom to ensure quick and constant flow. The technology used will enable automated target drops for the night vision goggle firefighting program and will have the capability to adjust flow rates based on speed and altitude. A Coulson helicopter that has been certified in Australia for night drops has been used on a regular basis for the last several months during the country’s 2018-2019 bushfire season.

Coulson has engineered several different sizes of the tanks to enable them to be used in a variety of aircraft, including the C-130 and the 737. The CU-60 will carry up to 1,000 USG, and the CU-47 will carry up to 3,000 USG.

The snorkels used for hover refilling will be a brand new Coulson design, using an electrically-powered pump which will retract into the belly allowing flight to and from the fire with no speed restrictions, along with the ability to taxi around airports or tanker bases.

Instead of the water or retardant flowing through a relatively small opening at the cargo hook, Coulson will modify the bellies of both the CH-47 and UH-60.

Coulson-Unical CU-60 helicopter UH-60
The engineering design for the water/retardant delivery system on the Coulson-Unical CU-60. Coulson image.

“We are cutting the lower skin and adding in structure between the frames, the same way we have done on the C-130 and B-737 to create the optimal, linear door opening”, Mr. Coulson said. “We are also engineering the tank to incorporate the hook which will allow us to longline with the tank installed.”

The helicopters will be type certified and FAA approved, and the models will be renamed.

“This partnership with Unical Aviation is the future of aerial firefighting, combining the best of both companies as we introduce the CU-60© and CU-47© Next Gen Helitankers,” stated CEO, Wayne Coulson, Coulson Aviation.

The helicopters will receive upgraded cockpits, featuring the Garmin G500H TXi synthetic vision displays and Coulson’s touch screen SMART Delivery System Controller for regulating the delivery of the water or retardant.

Coulson UH-60 cockpit
The concept for the cockpit of the CU-60. Coulson image.

Coulson-Unical will have a CU-60 and a CU-47 at the HAI Heli-Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, March 5 to 7. Both have been painted but have not yet received the internal tank modification. The two ships will be available this year with conventional water buckets. By 2020 the company expects to have 10 additional helicopters between the two types.

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11 thoughts on “Coulson adding UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters to their fleet”

    1. Yes the are. At least Coulson has part/Type 702,703 and 704 operations certification in Canada.

  1. It’s gonna be interesting to see how this goes Australia has some of the worst bushfires in the world and we gonna need to have new approaches to the problem. As anybody know where Unical Air get there Chinooks as well as which model?.

    Kind regards, Bob.

    1. They buy them from the US military and they are D models.
      Bit doing any firefighting is the best way to deal with bush fire. Fireat and bushland naturally beed s to burn down on a regular basis to regenerate and to lean up. Since aerial firefighting began, things got worse, since the small, dead and dry wood, as well als dry leaves don‘t burn away every few years anymore. Aerial firefighting actually fuels its own business by creating huge wildfires by stipping every upcoming small one. Great business idea .. but bad for the environment and the tax payer!!

  2. How they able to build their own ch-47 without getting them from Boeing?

    1. They don’t build the helicopters, the buy old decommissioned US military choppers and extensively modify them.

    1. Me too………but I flew the Boeing 234LR models, would like to do it again.

  3. Vorrei sapere se è indispendabile la lingua inglese, ho esperienza sul CH-47 C/D come flait ingegner…di 30 anni, sul CH-47 F, ho lavorato in fabbrica AGUSTA WESTELAND…circa un anno…

  4. Hi Mike and fellow readers, are below is a link to some information about these CH 47. Interesting facts they started life as C and must’ve been upgraded at some stage to D they all have the same REGGIO N160 but different letters on the end. One interesting fact N160CZ was originally Royal Australian Air Force CH 47.
    As I stated in my original post is gonna be interesting to see how these tank helicopters go?, Most of the competitors are using buckets where ever possible and only use the tank helicopters in cities and only because FAA rules.

    Kind regards, Bob.

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