LA County S-70A Firehawk helicopter suffers a rotor strike during training

LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
LACoFD Firehawk H-16 before Rotor Strike (N160LA). Facebook photo.

One of the S-70A Firehawk helicopters operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department suffered a rotor strike last week while the personnel were conducting training. Video posted on social media (see below) recorded the event. As Helicopter 16 (N160LA) appeared to be settling down to a landing, a main rotor blade struck a large rock. You can hear the impact and the sound of the helicopter was then very different, changing to a whop-whop-whop that reminded me of the sound of a Huey.

After the impact the ship immediately begin lifting and flew off out of sight. It was later photographed in a field where personnel on a ladder were inspecting one of the main rotor blades.

The knowledgeable person I talked to did not want to have their name disclosed since they were not authorized to discuss the incident in detail.

The helicopter has been repaired and is back in service. The incident occurred around July 30.

LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
LACoFD Firehawk H-16 immediately after a Rotor Strike (N160LA). Facebook photo.
LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
LACoFD Firehawk H-16 after a Rotor Strike (N160LA). Facebook photo.

Warning: the video below that shows the rotor strike has coarse language.

LACoFD Firehawk H-60 Rotor Strike
Mechanics checking out the LACoFD Firehawk H-16 after a Rotor Strike (N160LA). Chad Utt photo.
Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter 16
File photo of Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter 16 (N160LA with the open door) at Barton Heliport in Pacoima, California January 26, 2020. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The two brand new S-70i Firehawks that arrived at the Barton Heliport in Pacoima August 4 are basically ready to fight fire. One is 100 percent ready and the other is undergoing some minor changes to the seats. With this boost to the fleet the LACoFD now has 10 helicopters — 5 Firehawks and 5 Bell 412 ships.


The article was edited August 8, 2020 to show that the helicopter involved in the mishap was an S-70A rather than an S-70i.

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9 thoughts on “LA County S-70A Firehawk helicopter suffers a rotor strike during training”

  1. Lucky they could fly it off and lucky it did not cause a major wreck. Must have just been the rotor tip. Obviously no damage to the rotor hub and did not throw the blades completely out of balance. If it had the results could have been catastrophic

  2. Why would they fly so far after hitting the rotor blades on something? Seems like an immediate landing would have been a better option….

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