Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane

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S-64 Skycrane / Aircrane
Erickson Air-Crane (N6962R) Sikorsky S-64E departing Wagga Wagga Airport (cropped).jpg
Erickson S-64E over Wagga Wagga Airport
Role Aerial crane
National origin United States
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
Erickson Inc.
First flight 9 May 1962
Status Active
Primary user Erickson Inc.
Number built 31[1]
Developed from Sikorsky 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. It is currently produced as the S-64 Aircrane by Erickson Inc.

Development[edit]

Under Sikorsky[edit]

Helicopter N6962R "Olga" lifting part of the CN Tower antenna in Toronto, March 1975
Skycrane "Olga" lifting a CN Tower antenna segment

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 US gal (10,000 L) fixed retardant tank to assist in the control of bush fires, and it has proven itself admirably in this role.[citation needed] The helicopter is capable of refilling its entire tank of water in 45 seconds from a water slide 18 in (46 cm) thick.[3]

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.[4]

Variants[edit]

Sikorsky Skycrane[edit]

An Erickson S-64 making a water drop
S-64
Twin-engined heavy-lift helicopter, 3 built. 1 rebuilt as S-64E.[5]
S-64A
Six test and evaluation helicopters for the US Army.
S-64B
Civil version of CH-54A, 7 built.

Erickson[edit]

S-64E
Upgraded CH-54A helicopters, plus one new build aircraft; 17 aircraft in total.[6]
S-64F
Upgraded CH-54B helicopters; powered by two Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-5A engines; 13 aircraft in total.[7]
S-64F+
Proposed upgraded version with new engines, avionics, and optional piloting.[8]

Operators[edit]

S-64 dropping water on the Ahorn Fire in Montana
 Italy
Italian Forest Service S-64F
 South Korea
 United States

Incidents[edit]

  • N189AC "Gypsy Lady" – crashed in Ojai, California on 1 October 2006. While operating for the USFS, the Erickson S-64 snagged a dip tank and the helicopter rolled over and crashed.[21]
  • N198AC "Shirley Jean" – S-64F; sold to European Air-Crane c.2006 as I-SEAD; crashed in Italy on 2007-04-26.[22] Aircraft was destroyed in a post-crash fire.[23]
  • N248AC "Aurora" – S-64E; named after Aurora State Airport, home to Columbia Helicopters, former owner of aircraft.[12] 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.[24][25]
  • N173AC "Christine" - S-64E; ditched into a small dam within Melbourne's water catchment with no casualties during a firefighting operation in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia on 28 January 2019. The crew, consisting of 2 pilots and the flight engineer, were able to bail from the aircraft in 2-3m of water and swim to safety with no life-threatening injuries.[26] The aircraft was rebuilt at Erickson's Central Point, Oregon facility and flew again in early 2021.

Specifications (S-64E)[edit]

Sikorsky-S-64 Drawing.svg

Data from The International Directory of Civil Aircraft[27]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3 (pilot, co-pilot), plus one rear-facing aft-stick operator during external-load operations[a]
  • Capacity: up to 5 total people[b] / 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) payload
  • Length: 70 ft 3 in (21.41 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 7 in (5.66 m)
  • Empty weight: 19,234 lb (8,724 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 42,000 lb (19,051 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-4A (T73-P-1) turboshaft engines, 4,500 shp (3,400 kW) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 72 ft 0 in (21.95 m)
  • Main rotor area: 4,070 sq ft (378 m2)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 109 kn (125 mph, 202 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 91 kn (105 mph, 169 km/h)
  • Range: 200 nmi (230 mi, 370 km) max fuel and reserves
  • Hover ceiling IGE S-64E: 10,600 ft (3,200 m)
  • Hover ceiling IGE S-64A: 9,700 ft (3,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,330 ft/min (6.8 m/s)

See also[edit]

Sikorsky installing monopole in Langkawi, Malaysia

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The minimum crew is two and the aft-stick operation can be done by the co-pilot
  2. ^ The helicopter has five seats but the two observer seats can not be used during external load operations, if the aft-stick seat is used when not used for external-load operations then the controls have to be disengaged and guarded.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sikorsky s-64 CH-54 in USA: Erickson". Helis. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  2. ^ Jackson, Paul (1976). German Military Aviation 1956–1976. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 0-904597-03-2.
  3. ^ "Firefighting Services - Erickson Incorporated". ericksoninc.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Topping of Tower". CNTower.ca.
  5. ^ "S-64 c/n 64-003". Helis.com. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  6. ^ "S-64E". Helis.com. Archived from the original on 27 May 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  7. ^ "CH-54B Tarhe". Helis.com. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  8. ^ Reim, Garrett (29 January 2020). "Erickson to demo S-64 Air Crane flying autonomously using Sikorsky Matrix". FlightGlobal.com. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Korea Forest Service S-64". Archived from the original on 10 July 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  10. ^ "KFS Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane". Demand media. Archived from the original on 3 June 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Erickson delivers another Air Crane to Korea Forest Service". fireaviation.com. 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Helispot photo". Helispot. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  13. ^ "the origins of Erickson Air-Crane". Erickson Air-Crane, Inc. 2013. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Evergreen S-64 spec. sheet" (PDF). Evergreen aviation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  15. ^ "HTS Fleet". htshelicopters.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  16. ^ "S-64 Aircranes for L.A.?". ainonline.com. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  17. ^ "LAFD S-64". emergencyrigs.net. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  18. ^ "L.A. County S-64". Yahoo. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Erickson Air-Crane buys Sun Bird aircraft from San Diego Gas & Electric". Helihub. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Fleet". Siller helicopters. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  21. ^ "NTSB report (LAX07TA001)". Ntsb.gov. Archived from the original on 14 January 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  22. ^ Helicopters area of dgualdo.it (report excerpts in Italian) Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "NTSB report – NYC07WA152". Ntsb.gov. 26 April 2007. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  24. ^ "NTSB report – WAS04WA012". Ntsb.gov. 26 August 2004. Archived from the original on 31 July 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  25. ^ "NTSB probes Air-Crane crash – September 9, 2004". Archive.mailtribune.com. 9 September 2004. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  26. ^ "Aircrane extracted after crashing into lake in Australia". fireaviation.com. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  27. ^ 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
image icon Line drawing of Skycrane