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Heli-Expo 2017: United Rotorcraft works with LA Fire Department

7th March 2017 - 19:10 GMT | by Beth Maundrill in Dallas

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United Rotorcraft is highlighting its UH-60/S-70 Black Hawk mission system integration testbed for the first time at Heli-Expo.

The company will use the non-flying aircraft to test everything from avionics to crew working stations, with the platform on display equipped with an EMS configuration, including a medevac mission support system, originally developed for the US Army, as well as various crew seating configurations.

With more than 800 US Army Black Hawks being divested, the helicopter market is seeing the aircraft start to go into commercial service.

The company is currently working with the Los Angeles Fire Department to provide its Firehawks with next generation water tanks.

'The LA Fire Department is finalising the technical specifications for its next generation Firehawks,' said Mike Slattery, president at United Rotorcraft. 'Over the next 12 months the aircraft will go into the modification phase.'

The LA Fire Department currently has a fleet of three S-70A Firehawks and five Bell 412s, two of the HB configuration and two EP. The Bell 412s are capable of carrying 360 gallons of water and the S-70As 1,000 gallons.

'We are hoping to get some S-70is soon,' said Dennis Blumenthal, chief of maintenance air operations centre at the LA Fire Department. 'We are looking to acquire one to four aircraft but ask me again in a few months and it might be different.'

These aircraft would come straight from the Sikorsky production line in Poland.

The Fire Hawk is able to hover over a body of water and utilise its snorkel to gather water. The Fire Hawks have a higher landing gear with an additional 20 inch of lift to accommodate the water tanks.

'The Fire Hawk is the ultimate multi mission ship, it has great speed, lift and ability to fly,' Blumenthal said. 'We can gather 1,000 gallons of water in less than 60 seconds with no speed limitations.'

At this time the LA Fire Department is the only fire department utilising the Fire Hawk and the service has flown over 12,000 flight hours in the three aircraft it currently operates.

Blumenthal said that the aircraft also carry out personnel transport and EMS missions and are constantly in use.

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