The former US Army helicopter is on standby at Van Nuys Airport to assist with firefighting missions under call-when-needed contracts with the US Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The aircraft is the first of several UH-60 Blackhawks that Helinet intends on operating in the aerial firefighting market over the next few years. The addition of this specialty equipped firefighting Blackhawk augments Helinet’s existing UH-60 MovieHawk, which has worked for the past four years in the motion picture and television industry.
The UH-60 Blackhawk cruises at 160 knots and is capable of lifting up to 8,000 pounds of external cargo. When using its Bambi PowerFill buckets, it can drop up to 900 gallons of water and can be refilled in less than a minute. Through Helinet's partnership with the Blackhawk's two private owners – Brown Helicopter, Inc. and Anduze Helicopter – the aircraft is supported by a team of pilots, a fuel truck, back-up equipment and maintenance technicians.
Kathryn Purwin, CEO at Helinet, commented: "At Helinet, helping save lives is our most important mission – from transporting critically ill children and transplant organs to local hospitals to providing turnkey mission solutions for airborne law enforcement and firefighting operations. Every member of our team is committed to upholding the highest levels of safety while providing critical services to the community."
In addition to aerial firefighting services, Helinet's 14 CFR Part 133 and 137 certifications allow the company to perform a wide range of utility operations including aerial seeding, powerline and pipeline inspection and construction, aerial mapping and on-demand external load air service. Its fleet of aircraft includes single and twin-engine helicopters capable of performing a diverse set of missions.
Sean Cross, Helinet’s President and COO, said: "We are pleased to expand our helicopter services even further by providing a broad range of utility services while continuing to grow the Helinet brand. The launch of this new division reflects our ongoing commitment of providing our clients with the most diverse, robust and reliable aviation solutions on the market.”