Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane

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S-64 Skycrane / Aircrane
Erickson S-64E, Elvis
Role Aerial crane
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
Erickson Air-Crane
Designer Igor Sikorsky
First flight 9 May 1962
Status Active
Primary user Erickson Air-Crane
Number built 31 [1]
Developed from CH-54 Tarhe

The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane is an American twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter. It is the civil version of the United States Army's CH-54 Tarhe. The S-64 Aircrane is the current production version, manufactured by the Erickson Air-Crane company.


S-64E Erickson Air-Crane, Delilah (N194AC) at Ioannina airport, Greece

Under Sikorsky[edit]

The Sikorsky S-64 was designed as an enlarged version of the prototype flying crane helicopter, the Sikorsky S-60. The S-64 had a six-blade main rotor and was powered by two 4,050 shaft horsepower (3,020 kW) Pratt & Whitney JFTD12A turboshaft engines. The prototype S-64 first flew on 9 May 1962 and was followed by two further examples for evaluation by the German armed forces.[2] The Germans did not place an order, but the United States Army placed an initial order for six S-64A helicopters (with the designation YCH-54A Tarhe). Seven S-64E variants were built by Sikorsky for the civil market.

Under Erickson[edit]

Originally a Sikorsky Aircraft product, the type certificate and manufacturing rights were purchased from them by Erickson Air-Crane in 1992. Since that time, Erickson Air-Crane has become the manufacturer and world's largest operator of S-64 Aircranes and has made over 1,350 changes to the airframe, instrumentation, and payload capabilities of the helicopter. The Aircrane can be fitted with a 2,650-gallon (~10,000 litre) fixed retardant tank to assist in the control of bush fires, and it has proved itself admirably in this role.

S-64 dropping water on the Ahorn Fire in Montana

S-64 Aircranes have been sold to the Italian and Korean Forest Services for fire suppression and emergency response duties. Those in the Erickson Air-Crane fleet are leased worldwide to organizations, companies, and Federal Government agencies for either short-term or longer term use in fire suppression, civil protection, heavy lift construction, and timber harvesting.

Erickson is manufacturing new S-64s, as well as remanufacturing existing CH-54s. Erickson gives each of its S-64s an individual name, the best-known being "Elvis", used in fighting fires in Australia alongside "The Incredible Hulk" and "Isabelle". Other operators, such as Siller Brothers, have followed with their Sikorsky S-64E, Andy's Pride. The Erickson S-64E nicknamed "Olga" was used to lift the top section of the CN Tower into place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Sikorsky Skycrane[edit]

"Shania" (N720HT) dumping water at Mt Kuring-gai near Sydney in April 2007
Twin-engined heavy-lift helicopter, 3 built. 1 rebuilt as S-64E [3].
Six test and evaluation helicopters for the US Army.
Civil version of CH-54A, 7 built.

Erickson Aircrane[edit]

Upgraded & certified CH-54A helicopters, plus one new build aircraft. 17 aircraft in total[4].
Upgraded & certified CH-54B helicopters. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-5A engines. 13 aircraft in total[5].


 South Korea
Italian Forest Service S-64F on display at the 2005 HAI HeliExpo
 United States


  • N189AC "Gypsy Lady" – crashed in Ojai, California on October 1, 2006. While operating for the USFS The Erickson S-64 snagged a dip tank and the helicopter rolled over and crashed.[18]
  • N198AC "Shirley Jean" – S-64F; sold to European Air-Crane c.2006 as I-SEAD; crashed in Italy on 2007-04-26.[19] Aircraft was destroyed in a post-crash fire.[20]
  • N248AC "Aurora" – S-64E; named after Aurora State Airport, home to Columbia Helicopters, former owner of aircraft.[9] Crashed on 26 August 2004 in Corsica, killing its Canadian pilot and French co-pilot. The aircrane was chartered by the interior ministry to fight fires on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. It had been fighting a wildfire as it went down near the village of Ventiseri, trying to return to a nearby military base, due to technical problems associated with inflight breakup.[21][22]

Specifications (S-64E)[edit]

Sikorsky-S-64 Drawing.svg

Data from The International Directory of Civil Aircraft[23]

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Sikorsky installing monopole in Langkawi, Malaysia
Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ "Sikorsky s-64 CH-54 in USA: Erickson". Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Paul (1976). German Military Aviation 1956–1976. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 0-904597-03-2. 
  3. ^ "S-64 c/n 64-003". Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  4. ^ "S-64E". Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  5. ^ "CH-54B Tarhe". Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "Corpo Forestale dello Stato Elicottero S 64 F". Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Korea Forest Service S-64". Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "KFS Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane". Demand media. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Helispot photo". Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  10. ^ "the origins of Erickson Air-Crane". Erickson Air-Crane, Inc. 2013. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Evergreen S-64 spec. sheet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "HTS Fleet". Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "S-64 Aircranes for L.A.?". Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "LAFD S-64". Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  15. ^ "L.A. County S-64". Retrieved 17 March 2013. [permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Erickson Air-Crane buys Sun Bird aircraft from San Diego Gas & Electric". Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  17. ^ "Siller Fleet". Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "NTSB report (LAX07TA001)". Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  19. ^ Helicopters area of (report excerpts in Italian) Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "NTSB report – NYC07WA152". 26 April 2007. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  21. ^ "NTSB report – WAS04WA012". 26 August 2004. Archived from the original on 31 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  22. ^ "NTSB probes Air-Crane crash – September 9, 2004". 9 September 2004. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 2010-12-20. 
  23. ^ Frawley, Gerard: The International Directiory of Civil Aircraft, 2003–2004, page 195. Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd, 2003. ISBN 1-875671-58-7

External links[edit]

External image
Line drawing of Skycrane