CAL FIRE’s new Firehawk arrives at Sacramento

CAL FIRE plans to purchase up to 12 Sikorsky S-70i firefighting helicopters

CAL FIRE Firehawk helicopter 903

(Above: CAL FIRE’s Firehawk helicopter 903 at Centennial Airport southeast of Denver on the weekend of October 5, 2019, shortly before it was delivered to CAL FIRE in Sacramento. Photo by Kevin Falkenstine.)

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection showed off one of its new Firehawk helicopters Saturday, October 12 at Sacramento McClellan Airport. CAL FIRE has received approval to purchase up to 12 new Sikorsky S-70i helicopters retrofitted by United Rotorcraft as a wildland firefighting aircraft. The Firehawks will replace its aging fleet of 12 Super Huey helicopters.

Helicopter 903, with “McClellan” painted on the side, will be able to carry up to 1,000 gallons of water in an external belly tank. Other features include a 9,000 pound capacity cargo hook, 360-gallon fuel cell, night vision compatible lighting, rescue hoist, augmented reality mapping system, and retractible drafting hose. It can cruise fully loaded at 130 knots (150 mph), or 150 knots (173 mph) unloaded.

Each of CAL FIRE’s new Firehawks costs about $24 million which includes pilot training and a two-year warranty.

The three photos seen here that were taken out of doors are by Kevin Falkenstine. He spotted the aircraft on the weekend of October 5 flying near the compass rose at Centennial Airport, which is where United Rotorcraft is located southeast of Denver.

CAL FIRE Firehawk helicopter 903
CAL FIRE’s Firehawk helicopter 903 at Centennial Airport southeast of Denver on the weekend of October 5, 2019, shortly before it was delivered to CAL FIRE in Sacramento. Photo by Kevin Falkenstine.
CAL FIRE Firehawk helicopter 903
CAL FIRE’s Firehawk helicopter 903 at Centennial Airport southeast of Denver on the weekend of October 5, 2019, shortly before it was delivered to CAL FIRE in Sacramento. Photo by Kevin Falkenstine.
CAL FIRE Firehawk helicopter 903
CAL FIRE’s Firehawk helicopter 903 at Sacramento McClellan airport October 12, 2019. United Rotorcraft/Sikorsky.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jack. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

4 thoughts on “CAL FIRE’s new Firehawk arrives at Sacramento”

  1. Interesting how the N number changed between the first and last photos. A quick search of the FAA registry shows that N746SX (first photo) is unclaimed while N483DF (last photo) appears to be this helicopter. The airworthiness certificate lists its classification as Experimental and category as Research and Development.

    1. N483DF is likley the registration that will stick. It is in line with the roughly 50 aircraft that CAL FIRE has which use the Department of Forestry initialed N numbers. I believe that ultimately this and the aircraft to follow will be S70M models which is the RESTRICTED category version. I’ll bet the paperwork for some of the mods isn’t quite done and thus the experimental designation. There are no eligible serial numbers for the S70M until the first one gets the FAA blessing per note 19 in the TCDS. Perhaps this is it. When the Restricted certificate is available it’ll mean a private operaor can finally fork over 20 million bucks and buy a new Blackhawk.

  2. Wondering when “we” in Ventura County finally get our Firehawk(s) delivered from United Rotorcraft? Based on your articles from last year, N70VC and N60VC are a few months overdue now.

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