Photos of aircraft on the Elephant Butte Fire, part 4 of 5

Today, three large, Type 1 CH54 helicopters

Helicopter 5HT, a CH54 fire N715HT
Helicopter 5HT, a CH54 (N715HT) at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport near Denver during the Elephant Butte Fire. Photo by skippyscage.com.

The Elephant Butte Fire burned about 50 acres on steep terrain southwest of Denver two miles northwest of Evergreen Lake, Colorado. It was reported around 3 p.m. on Monday July 13 and the spread was stopped at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday July 14 by good work from firefighters in the air and on the ground, with a big assist from rain.

Skippyscage.com got some great photos of the aircraft battling the blaze, both while they were over the fire and at the air tanker base at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (JEFFCO) northwest of Denver. With his permission, we will showing you some of his shots in five installments.

Today we are featuring CH-54 Type 1 helitankers operated by Helicopter Transport Service manufactured in 1968 and 1969, N715HT, N792HT, and N722HT.

Helicopter 2HT, a CH54 (N722HT)
Helicopter 2HT, a CH54 (N722HT) at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport near Denver during the Elephant Butte Fire. Photo by skippyscage.com.
Helicopter 2HT (N722HT) fire
Helicopter 2HT a CH54 (N722HT) dropping on the Elephant Butte Fire southwest of Denver, July 13, 2020. Photo by skippyscage.com.
Helicopter 92HT, a CH54 (N792HT) fire
Helicopter 92HT, a CH54 (N792HT) at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport near Denver during the Elephant Butte Fire. Photo by skippyscage.com.

Click here to see the series of five installments of photos of aircraft on the Elephant Butte Fire. They will be posted daily from July 17 through July 21, 2020.

Erickson receives FAA approval for composite main rotor blades

The blades will be used on S-64 and CH-54 helicopters

Erickson composite main rotor blades
Erickson introduces composite main rotor blades. Erickson photo.

Erickson Incorporated announced this week that the company has received FAA approval for composite main rotor blades for S-64 and CH-54 helicopters.

After many years of manufacturing metal blades, the company invested in the future of the S-64 by designing, certifying, and building composite main rotor blades that will bring many benefits. Erickson began the process of designing the new blades in 2008, working closely with the FAA and various industry partners. In 2013 they collaborated with Helicopter Transport Services (HTS), so the blades could be utilized on CH-54 rotorcraft as well.

To maintain close control of blade manufacture, Erickson built a composite manufacturing facility from scratch in 2015. After thousands of hours of design, testing, and analysis by their engineers and partners, the new composite main rotor blades are now approved by the FAA for the S-64E with an initial life that will increase as fatigue testing continues. Certification for the CH-54A is expected to follow quickly in the coming weeks, and certification for the S-64F and CH-54B should be received this summer.

In February Erickson announced the S-64F+ which will have composite main rotor blades, an enhanced cockpit and flight control system, an improved water cannon, and what the company calls a modern engine enhancing range and fuel efficiency.