How UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters Are Used for Aerial Firefighting

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aerial firefighting helicopters

How Are Wildfires Defined?

Wildfires are dangerous fires that spread quickly in natural areas like forests, grasslands, or prairies. On average, wildfires burn 6.8 million acres of U.S. land every year. These fires not only devastate natural areas but can also cause massive destruction to communities.

Wildfires can start due to a variety of reasons, but some of the most common causes of wildfires include:

  • Lightning strikes
  • Extended dry spells or droughts
  • An accumulation of dead matter that can create enough heat to spontaneously combust and ignite the surrounding area
  • Manmade combustions from arson
  • Human carelessness
  • Lack of fire safety
  • Prescribed fire projects that grew out of control

No matter how a wildfire starts, it can spread quickly and cause a lot of damage if not contained or put out. An efficient way to contain a wildfire and prevent further destruction is through aerial firefighting. Aerial firefighting is the process of using fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and other aerial resources to fight wildfires.

Why Are Helicopters Used for Forest Firefighting?

Helicopters were first used to fight wildfires in 1947 and have since become an essential tool in forest firefighting. Aerial firefighting helicopters are not only used to fight the flames and reduce the potential spread of a fire but can also be used to transport equipment and workforce to the scene.

Most commonly, firefighting helicopters are used to rapidly douse flames in areas that cannot be accessed by ground firefighting crews. Some of these areas include:

  • Mountains
  • Steep canyons
  • Rugged terrains

When used for forest firefighting, helicopters are often equipped with tanks or buckets. The tanks are typically filled on the ground by water tenders or truck-mounted systems prior to taking off. The buckets are usually filled by submerging or dipping them into rivers, lakes, reservoirs, or portable tanks.

Depending on the size of the bucket and the helicopter, some buckets can carry up to 660 gallons of water at a time. These buckets typically have a release valve on the bottom that is controlled by the helicopter crew.

In addition to dropping water, firefighting helicopters will carry transport teams and their equipment to the field. Some of this equipment includes:

  • Water pumps
  • Hoses
  • Tools

From dropping water and retardant to carrying cargo and crews, helicopters stand out as an extremely versatile fire management tool. 

Why Choose Sikorsky Helicopters for Firefighting?

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was designed to be dependable, fast, and high-performance. While this helicopter is used for a variety of applications in over 29 countries around the world, it is frequently used for forest firefighting.

With the versatility to reach the low altitudes needed for effective water delivery and the ability to lift up to 9,000 pounds, the UH-60 is one of the best aerial firefighting helicopters available. Additional features that make the UH-60 ideal for forest firefighting include:

  • Able to reach speeds up to 163 mph
  • Can carry up to 15 people
  • Equipped with a dual digital flight control computer
  • Powered by two T700-GE-701D engines
  • Outfitted with a cargo hook for external lift missions
  • Requires little maintenance

Additionally, a Bambi Bucket can be attached to the cargo hook of a UH-60 for consistent and accurate delivery of water or foam. The Bambi Bucket is a tough but lightweight bucket that can hold up to 2,600 gallons of liquid, making it ideal for aerial firefighting.

Maintenance Kits for Aerial Firefighting Helicopters

If you use Sikorsky helicopters for firefighting, it’s crucial to perform regular maintenance in order to keep your helicopter running safely and smoothly. At Cutting Dynamics, we offer UH-60 Black Hawk phase maintenance kits for the following flight hour intervals:

  • 360-hour
  • 480-hour
  • 720-hour
  • 960-hour

Each kit contains Sikorsky-approved replacement parts that are organized into five different sections according to our patented color-coded system. These kits make performing maintenance on your firefighting helicopters easy and quick.

Maintenance Kits for Firefighting Helicopters

In addition to our maintenance kits, we also offer replacement parts for your UH-60 aerial firefighting helicopters. We supply reliable, cost-efficient, and high-quality parts for all of the following zones of your helicopter:

  • Cockpit (zone 1)
  • Cabin (zone 2)
  • Transition (zone 3)
  • Tail cone (zone 4)
  • Tail rotor pylon (zone 5)
  • Main rotor pylon (zone 6)

Why Choose Cutting Dynamics for Aerial Firefighting Spare Parts and Maintenance Kits?

For over 30 years, Cutting Dynamics has been providing essential products and services to the aerospace industry. Some of the factors that set us apart from other suppliers of aerial firefighting parts and maintenance kits include:

  • Decades of industry experience – Over the years, we have worked with a variety of clients in the commercial and defense sectors. Some of our longstanding customers include Bell, Parker, Gulfstream, Sikorsky, Cessna, and Boeing.
  • First-class products and services – Cutting Dynamics is an AS9100 and ISO 9001 certified company that focuses on delivering high-quality products and services.
  • A variety of aerospace capabilities – In addition to supplying parts and maintenance kits for firefighting helicopters, we offer a variety of other aerospace services. Some of our capabilities include aerospace hydroforming, hot forming titanium, thermoplastic composites, complex machining, and engineering.

Learn More About UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters on Our Blog

The Cutting Dynamics blog is your source for information on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, aviation news, and much more. Check out some of our other blog posts about Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters:

UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters Are Ideal for Forest Firefighting and More

In addition to aerial firefighting, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters can be used for a variety of other applications. Some of these applications include:

  • Troop transport
  • Logistical support
  • Medical evacuation
  • Armed escort
  • Electronic warfare
  • Armed command-and-control

Contact Cutting Dynamics for Maintenance Kits and Spare Parts for Firefighting Helicopters

If you use Sikorsky helicopters for firefighting and need replacement parts or maintenance kits, contact the team at Cutting Dynamics today. We are ready to answer any questions you may have.