27-May-2021 Source: United Rotorcraft
United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods Corporation announced today the delivery of two HH-60L FIREHAWK® helicopters to Ventura County Air Unit.
Configured by United Rotorcraft with a 1,000-gallon water tank attached to the belly of the aircraft; an extended landing gear to accommodate the tank; a retractable snorkel than can refill the tank in less than one minute; a fully glass cockpit; a custom avionics package; and a rescue hoist, these HH-60L Firehawk® helicopters will allow fire crews to attack wildfires, transport up to 10 fully equipped ground firefighters to the fire line, and rescue firefighters and civilians when in need.
Ventura County Air Unit has been in operation since 1971 and currently operates four different Bell UH-1 Hueys; one each of the HH-1H, UH-1H, Bell 205B, Bell 212, and one Bell 206 Long Ranger, in addition to their two new HH-60L FIREHAWK® helicopters. The County has continued to perfect the tactics needed to suffocate wildfires in their early stage when a fire is most vulnerable, while simultaneously working in close coordination with firefighting crews on the ground. Ventura County’s HH-60L FIREHAWK® aircraft are more powerful and faster than all of their current aircraft, allowing them to carry approximately three times the amount of water, while traveling at speeds of up to 130 knots. This means the crews arrive on scene sooner, with significantly more firefighting power, preventing destruction better than ever before.
“With wildfire season continuing to grow in duration and intensity across Western States, the FIREHAWK® helicopter has never been more relevant than it is today,” said Larry Alexandre, president of United Rotorcraft. “This aircraft brings unmatched multi-mission capability to Ventura County’s fire fighters in their effort to protect lives and property.”
United Rotorcraft has completely revolutionized the HH-60L aircraft by converting the twin-engine aircraft to its aerial firefighting configuration. The aircraft retains its multi-mission capability, allowing aircrew to perform search and rescue missions, medical evacuation, and carry cargo either internally or as an external load. United Rotorcraft integrated and installed newly upgraded tactical, communication, and navigation systems to specifications based on input from Ventura County Air Unit.
Along with its signature firefighting tank, United Rotorcraft has also installed a 600 lb. external rescue hoist, a 9,000 lb. cargo hook with a load cell system, forward recognition lights, and a high intensity searchlight onto each aircraft. The HH-60L’s outdated analogue gauge cockpit was replaced by a fully integrated, glass avionics suite to reduce pilot workload and increase mission effectiveness while operating in high-stakes environments. These new systems also give the crews the capability to track exactly when, where, and how much water was taken onboard, so they can replace the water after the mission is complete.
“We thank Ventura County Air Unit for their trust in United Rotorcraft to bring a life-saving, firefighting helicopter to the urban centers and forests of California,” said Brit McDermett, vice president of sales & marketing at United Rotorcraft. “Their firefighters now have a powerful and proven helicopter that can attack fires at night, maneuver with agility and safety in canyons and terrain in every imaginable condition, while dropping water with tremendous precision and force.”
Ventura County Fire Department Division Chief, Gary Monday, concluded, “The addition of our newly modified HH-60L helicopters into the Firehawk community will provide an excellent service to the citizens of Ventura County. The modifications that United Rotorcraft performed were done professionally, and with excellent craftsmanship. The high landing gear that enables a 1000-gallon fixed tank is invaluable to our wildfire fighting mission. The instrument panel is state of the art, with dual Garmin 750’s and Garmin EFI. The newly incorporated radios are complemented by Technisonic TDFM 9600 all band radio. The aircraft’s capabilities also include a moving map and FLIR. The TrakkaBeam searchlight is externally mounted under the nose of the aircraft and will be of great value to us. To allow us Search and Rescue capabilities, there is a BF Goodrich rescue hoist that has the capability to provide rescue up to 300 feet below the aircraft. We couldn’t be happier with the quality of the work performed by the United Rotorcraft team.”