Sikorsky has been awarded a Certificate of Airworthiness from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for its S-70M Black Hawk helicopter aircraft. The FAA certified the aircraft under Part 21 of the US Code of Federal Regulations under its ‘Restricted’ category, basing its certification on the US Army UH-60M Black Hawk.
The Restricted Category Special Airworthiness Certificate will enable civil and commercial operators in the US to purchase new production versions of the military-designed helicopter for the first time, according to Jason Lambert, Vice President of Sikorsky Global Commercial & Military Systems.
Sikorsky requested approval for three categories of operations: agricultural operations, forest and wildlife conservation, which includes firefighting; and external cargo, which allows use of the aircraft’s 4,082kg external cargo lift hook.
The first civilian S-70M will enter service in 2023
The first S-70M delivery to a civilian operator was completed on 18 November at the Sikorsky Training Academy in Stuart Florida, to California public utility San Diego Gas and Electric.
The aircraft will be modified to a Firehawk firefighting configuration by the Colorado-based United Rotorcraft division of helicopter operator Air Methods. The helicopter will be equipped with a 3,785-litre external water tank, and is expected to enter service with SDG&E in 2023.
Lambert added that: “Internationally, where the FAA restricted category is not widely restricted, we can now discuss with other civil aviation authorities the potential of validating the aircraft for challenging civil operations in their countries’ aerospace.”
Parent company Lockheed Martin also plans to manufacture S-70M aircraft conforming to the FAA Restricted certification at its PZL Mielec subsidiary in Poland.