- Photo courtesy of Sikorsky

Photo courtesy of Sikorsky

Sikorsky has delivered an S-70 Black Hawk helicopter to the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. It will be used to more quickly find and extinguish wildfires, perform rescue missions, and deliver initial medical care across the city and neighboring counties.

The S-70 Black Hawk helicopter has the engine power to carry more than four U.S. tons of water, and will operate with safe power margins in hot temperatures at high altitudes. The aircraft's high strength and corrosion-resistant airframe significantly reduces maintenance costs, according to the company.

"Never before has the City of San Diego operated as large and as powerful a helicopter as the Black Hawk, which can accurately place almost three times more water on a wildland fire in a single drop than our current fleet. By hitting wildland fires aggressively in their initial stage, we will be able to keep fires small," said San Diego Fire-Rescue Air Operations Chief Chuck Macfarland.

For now, San Diego Fire-Rescue plans to use the helicopter as is, using the model’s 850-gallon internal tank. In 2019, a third-party upfitter will transform the helicopter into a Firehawk configuration, with a 1,000-gallon belly tank, retractable snorkel, extended landing gear.

The S-70 aircraft's advanced digital cockpit takes on many of the aircraft's flight functions, allowing the pilot to pre-program and manage the mission while adjusting flight parameters, such as speed, precision hover, heading, and altitude, as needed. A digital moving map shows the pilot the aircraft's precise location and destination at all times.

Standard safety features on the S-70 include an Integrated Vehicle Health Management System to monitor the aircraft's operational health and a terrain and obstacle avoidance system that alerts air crew to the proximity of potential ground hazards.

In addition to its principal mission of wildland fire suppression, San Diego's Firehawk can transport rescue medics and hoist patients into the cabin for treatment and transport to a nearby hospital.


Related: Fla. County Adds Six Helicopters for Mosquito Control

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