Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Information about the Carson S-61 helicopters

One of Carson Helicopters S-61s was involved in the fatal crash on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The company has 12 firefighting helicopters, all of which were working on fires in Oregon and California, and 7 other helicopters. Here is some information gathered from the Carson Helicopters web site about the Sikorsky S-61.
Carson's S-61 FIRE KING is the "perfect" firefighting machine capable of rapidly and accurately delivering a thousand gallons of water per drop. That, coupled with the ability to transport personnel and cargo internally at great speeds and range directly to the fire line, makes the FIRE KING the most versatile fire suppression tool available to Firefighting Agencies today.

Aircraft Performance

* 22,000 lb Max Gross Weight
* 11,000 lb External Load
* 14,000 ft Service Ceiling - 12,000 ft Take Off & Landing
* 131 Knot Cruise Speed
* 450 Nautical Mile Range
* 3.5 Hour Endurance with 30 Minute Reserve


* Composite Main Rotor Blades
* 15 Passenger Interior
* Fire King 1,000 Gallon Fixed Belly Tank
* Goodrich Hoist (600 lb)
* Stokes Litter
* Rescue Basket
* Rescue Strop
* Rappel Anchor
* Rope Assisted Deployment Anchor (R.A.D.)
* 11,000 lb Cargo Hook
* 63" Sliding Cargo Door
* 900 Gallon Variable Flow Water Bucket
* 150', 100' & 50' Synthetic Long Line


* Garmin 530 Moving Map
* Automated Flight Following
* Traffic Collision Avoidance Detection (TCAD)
* Storm Scope
* Radar altimeter
* Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)
* 2 - VHF Radios
* 2 - P25 Compliant Radios
* External Public Address System with Siren
* Cabin ICS with transmit Capability
* Remote GPS Receiver Antenna

Carson Helicopters is a leader in heavy helicopter wildland fire suppression. Since 1991 Carson has flown thousands of incident free hours with a 100% availability and 100% on time arrival.

Here is a 37-second video of a Carson S-61 doing a demonstration water drop in Western Australia.

UPDATE @ 10:26 August 7

From the LA Times:
In April, the FAA issued an "airworthiness directive" regarding Sikorsky S-model helicopters after one developed fatigue failures in the main rotor shaft. Carson Helicopters was among the companies alerted to the problem.

The FAA also outlined a list of actions to "prevent structural failure, loss of power to the main rotor, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter." Carson filed comments in May, saying it had been six months since the company had ordered some of the relevant parts from Sikorsky and they were expected to arrive this month.

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