Forest Service publishes awards for Type 1 helicopters

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At least 27 helicopters are slated to receive exclusive use contracts

Type 1 Helicopter Contract May 21 2020
Contracts for Type 1 firefighting helicopters announced by the U.S. Forest Service May 21, 2020.

The U.S. Forest today published a list of 27 new contracts for Exclusive Use (EU) Type 1 firefighting helicopters. There is a possibility that the awards could be protested by companies that are not on the list. If that happens, the implementation of the contract could be delayed by months.

Two companies conspicuous by their absence are Coulson and Erickson.  Several years ago Erickson grew to the point that they were no longer qualified to bid on FS helicopter contracts that were limited to small businesses. But after their chapter 11 reorganization in 2017, Erickson emerged with new owners and a new ownership structure and the Small Business Administration restored their small business status the Digital Marketing Manager for the company, Christina Kalman, told us earlier this month. She said they submitted a proposal for the latest Type 1 EU contract and was hopeful for an award.

On the list distributed to the companies earlier this month, Coulson had the San Bernardino slot but that position is not specified on the document released today. The company has expandied significantly in recent years, acquiring 6 B-737s, 5 C-130s, and partnered with Unical Air, a new unit of the Unical Group of Companies to create a heavy lift helicopter joint venture company that will build and operate approximately ten (at last count) Boeing CH-47 and Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk aircraft for aerial firefighting and other markets. We interviewed Britt Coulson about this venture at the HAI Heli-Expo in Atlanta, March 5, 2019.

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6 thoughts on “Forest Service publishes awards for Type 1 helicopters”

  1. This is my 21st year as a wildland firefighter and since day 1 ericson and there skycrane pilots have been essentially the most successful and important part of the job they are the best resource in the sky that I have ever worked with and by them not getting there contract for 2020 all of us ground resources have just been put at that much more risk by not having there help so much for best value practices once again were put in more difficult situations so the contracting officer could save some money to the government but when inferior companys will not have the skill ericson would have provided leading to larger fires and the potential for firefighter injuries way to go C.O’s

    1. I beg to differ, you’ve made it the last 4 years without them. I’m pretty sure you’ll be alright for the next four.

    2. To say that one vendor delivers water better than another is inherently false. To argue that Erickson is the best vendor when it comes to water delivery and overlook the vendors that have been fielding A/C for the last 21 years and were also included in the last round of contracts is baseless. A better way of comparing and contrasting the different vendors would be to look at the aircraft that are provided. I am amazed to see so many H-3H and S-61’s on contract in with host bases that are very high and hot. I would be interested to see the TEB’s rational when it comes to the assignment of these aircraft over the glut of CH-47s and HH-60s in the mix.

      1. New Carson composite tail rotors for 61s made the difference. The new contractor w Blackhawks and KMAXs caught my eye.

    3. I wounder when they will announce who is actually gonna get the San Bernardino contract. As far as the best vendor they are all good in their own right all here for the same purpose to get the fire out.

      1. The protests have begun so I imagine berdoo gets announced when the sore losers officially lose for the 2nd time.

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