Scone Airport-based Pay’s Helicopters is bringing an ex-US Army UH-60A Black Hawk to Australia for the bushfire season to demonstrate the helicopter’s value and capabilities to state and territory fire agencies.
The recently refurbished Black Hawk, N434TH, from Timberline Helicopters in northern Idaho, will be equipped with a 900 US gallon (3,410lt) multi-shot BBX7590 Bambi bucket with a fast fill pump to help fill it in just over 30 seconds.
“We are very happy to have teamed up with Timberline Helicopters to be able to bring the Black Hawk out to Australia this season,” said Pay’s Helicopters’ chief pilot Mat Baker.
“We hope it becomes an ongoing relationship with Timberline as there has been quite a bit of interest from the fire agencies wanting to see it in operation and assess its capability. We are looking forward to showing them the value of this type of machine.”
N434TH was due to arrive at the Port of Brisbane in late December and once reassembled will fly to Scone in northern NSW to be put online and certified.
“To reassemble it, all you need to do is fold the tail out, put the blades back on, fuel it up and go,” said Baker.
“Since being brought online, Timberline have put 550 hours of operations on this helicopter in the last eight months in the US doing fire fighting, long line logging and precision lifts. It has not skipped a beat – it’s a very capable helicopter.”
N434TH, the first civilian registered Black Hawk to operate in Australia for aerial fire fighting operations, will operate under a discreet AOC with Pay’s while in the country.
“We hope to have a belly tank fitted to it next year,” said Baker.
“The big advantage of having twin engines and a tank allows helicopters to operate more in the urban interface as underslung loads are a little restrictive in those areas.”
To be flown by Timberline’s pilots, one of its engineers plus a container load of spares will be accompany the Black Hawk to Australia, which will be available as a call when needed resource for fire agencies until April 2017.