S-64 Helitanker fights fires around the world

The summer of 2009 has been another season fighting inferno for Erickson Air-Crane. The S-64 Helitaners are credited for helping contain several wildfires and are now hard at it on some of the worst fires of the season.

S-64 Helitanker Brandbekämpfung

The S-64 is used by Erickson Air-Crane for firefighting missions around the world (Photo: Erickson Air-Crane)  


In Southern California, four of Erickson’s Helitankers are on the scenes battling several deadly wildfires which are raging out of control, consuming homes and forcing thousands of evacuations.

In the Pacific Northwest, Aircranes helped put out fires in central Washington State, about midway between Seattle and Spokane and in southeast Washington where nearly a hundred homes were threatened and a landmark restaurant destroyed.

In Canada, three Aircranes battled blazes in British Columbia. One helicopter, nick-named Elvis, was urgently called away from a demonstration at the country’s largest air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and sent to join two other Aircranes already battling fires in Canada.  It is the most activity Erickson has seen in British Columbia in ten years.

In Greece, five Aircranes have dropped a nearly five and-a-half million gallons of water on fires burning out of control near Athens. They have been in Greece since mid-June. The country has had devastating fatal fires which have damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and threatened the heart of the Greek capital. The Aircranes fighting the fires in Greece have been featured in news photos and video around the world. The fires in Greece are out now and damage assessments are underway.

In Australia, Erickson Aircranes and their crews are given hero status for the work they have done helping to contain devastating bushfires. In February, the infamous Black Saturday fire killed 173 people and burned more than two-thousand structures. Later this year, six Erickson Aircranes will be sent to Australia where bushfires are an annual threat to lives and property.

The S-64 Aircrane Helitanker features a 2,650 gallon (~10,000 liter) tank with microprocessor controlled tank doors that allow for 8 different coverage levels. The microprocessor actually adjusts for airspeed and opens the tank doors to allow for a flow rate that matches the particular coverage level selected by the pilot. Considering the fast refill time of 45 seconds in a water source within a mile of the fire, the Helitanker is capable of delivering up to 30,000 gallons (~114,000 liters) of foam mix, retardant, or water, per hour, to the fire.

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