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Erickson plans major upgrades for the Air Crane helicopter

Erickson plans major upgrades for the Air Crane helicopter

Posted by Bill Gabbert on Jul 23rd 2022

Engine, rotor blades, water cannon, autonomous:

Erickson announced a list of upgrades to their S-64 Air-Crane helicopter, an aircraft that is used all over the world to assist wildland firefighters by dropping up to 2,650 gallons to slow the spread of fires. These changes will result in a new model, S-64F+.

Upgrades:

  • A new engine will replace the model that has been in use for 50 years. It will be more fuel efficient, and will feature a full-authority digital engine controller or FADEC (instead of manual controls) and will be able to lift more at high altitudes or in hot environments as well as improving flight time. Fuel cost savings are estimated at 38 percent.
  • Erickson says composite main rotor blades, currently appearing on their newer helicopters, will increase the payload capacity by 88 percent.
  • Enhanced water cannon, with 70 meter (230 feet) range.
  • MATRIX technology from Sikorsky should “enable autonomous operation in challenging environments.” Fire Aviation wrote about this March 5, 2021.

Erickson is not providing a time line for these developments, but they say the engine upgrade will occur “over the next few years.”

The increased duration and intensity of global fire seasons have escalated operators’ need to fight wildfires from the sky at night. Often, aerial firefighting is suspended after daylight due to certain pilot safety issues, regulatory hurdles, and technology limitations. Erickson Incorporated is tackling this head-on by partnering with trusted aerospace companies like Sikorsky to build the new S-64F+ Air Crane® helicopter. This new model aircraft redefines aerial firefighting and heavy-lift capabilities by combining time-tested features with game-changing innovations and upgrades.


The increased duration and intensity of global fire seasons have escalated operators’ need to fight wildfires from the sky at night. Often, aerial firefighting is suspended after daylight due to certain pilot safety issues, regulatory hurdles, and technology limitations. Erickson Incorporated is tackling this head-on by partnering with trusted aerospace companies like Sikorsky to build the new S-64F+ Air Crane® helicopter. This new model aircraft redefines aerial firefighting and heavy-lift capabilities by combining time-tested features with game-changing innovations and upgrades.