This month Erickson Incorporated delivered another Air Crane firefighting helicopter to the Korea Forest Service (KFS), completing the delivery of the latest two-aircraft order. Another S-64 was delivered to the KFS in November. This brings the KFS operational fleet up to six S-64 Air Crane helicopters.
In 2001, KFS became the first foreign government to purchase S-64 helicopters from Erickson. The recently delivered versions have composite main rotor blades and glass cockpits. Some of the S-64 helicopters in the KFS fleet have the optional front-mounted water cannon.
Flight Global reports that the helicopter delivered in December, registration HJ9659, is a re-manufactured aircraft built by Sikorsky in 1968 that has been out of service since 1993. Erickson purchased it in November 2018.
Two S-64 helicopters have crashed while hover refilling in the last six years. One owned and operated by the KFS crashed into a lake May 9, 2013 near the Andong Dam, Kyeongbuk Province, South Korea. The two pilots died at the scene and a maintenance crew chief on board sustained serious injuries. On January 28, 2019 an Air-Crane impacted the water while assigned to a wildfire in Victoria, Australia. Three crewmembers sustained minor injuries.
Tim Crippin sent us these photos of a new S-64 Erickson Air-Crane that is being tested before it is delivered to the Korea Forest Service.
“Heard it is supposed to be delivered to them in the next week,” Tim said. “It’s temporary N- number registration is N915AC. It’s been doing plenty of flight testing the past few weeks around Southern Oregon. I heard it is the first Air-Crane to have composite rotor blades.”
Above: An Erickson Aircrane reloads with retardant while fighting the Beaver Fire in northern California, August 12, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
(Originally published at 11:58 a.m. MST January 10, 2018)
Erickson Incorporated has received a contract to build two new Aircrane firefighting helicopters for the Korea Forest Service (KFS). These aircraft are in addition to a previously ordered S64E Aircrane currently under construction at Erickson and due to be delivered in the third quarter of 2018. These two additional aircraft will be equipped with firefighting tanks, sea snorkels, foam cannons, glass cockpit, composite main rotor blades and night vision goggle capability.
In 2001 KFS became the first foreign government to purchase S-64s from Erickson. To date it has operated five Aircranes in South Korea while maintaining a contract for parts and service support. This new contract brings the total number of orders for the KFS Aircrane fleet to eight, with the expectation of delivering the seventh and eighth aircraft by the end of 2019.
Erickson owns 20 S-64 Aircrane helicopters as part of their total fleet of 50 aircraft. The S-64 Helitanker is equipped with a 10,000 liter (2,650 gallons) tank capable of rapid snorkeling either fresh or saltwater.
A firefighting helicopter crew member died Monday during operations in the Gangwon Province of South Korea.
According to The Korean Times, the man “passed out as the aircraft made an emergency landing in Samcheok.” He was pronounced deceased after he was transferred to an area hospital, and early indications suggest the helicopter was forced to land after striking a high-tension power line.
At least 60 helicopters and 10,000 people have been mobilized for firefighting efforts in three areas, and residents across the region were urged to evacuate, the Korea JoonGang Daily reported.