FAA Allows Commercial Operation for the Black Hawk Helicopter


The Black Hawk Helicopter’s Role in Military

The Black Hawk helicopter was designed by Sikorsky in the early 70’s to replace the army’s UH-1 Huey. It began to be utilized in 1979, and is still a vital component of military operations. It’s effectiveness for transport of troops, search and rescue, Special Operations and other battlefield assignments has made it a very necessary part of our military’s arsenal, and should be a part for the next few years. However, according to the National Defense Magazine, “the helicopter designs used by the various military branches are at least 30-50 years old.” The Apache attack helicopters and the Sikorsky Black Hawks have both been in use for around 40 years. Because of this, the Army has instituted a plan they call “Future Vertical Lift”, which will include up to four new helicopter models over the span of the next 20 years. One of the proposed replacements is what the Army calls a “ultra” helo that will be so large that it can carry off missions that only the fixed-wing C-130 transport plane can handle.

The New FAA Regulation

Now, with the Black Hawk facing a phase-out based on the plans for new models in the future, it seems that the circumstances may have laid the groundwork for the FAA issuing what is called a “groundbreaking new regulation” pertaining to the commercial operations of the Black Hawk. This restricted-category type certification to (Black Hawk) helicopters will allow commercial operations of the Sikorsky UH-60A for firefighting and other special operations such as aerial crane, contruction and film production. Now, more than the 60 UH-60A recently sold by the U.S. Army, can be used for commercial purposes. Firehawk Helicopters first obtained approval for this certification. This is the first certificate of its kind to be given to a privately-held company. Now, Firehawk Helicopters, Brown Helicopter, and Dynamic Aviation either have or have available for purchase 40 plus UH-60/S-70‘s.

Commercial Uses

The Black Hawk can now be used in multiple commercial scenarios, but one is probably not needed more that its firefighting capabilities. Typically, in a firefighting mission, the smaller helicopters are first on the scene; then, the “heavy lifters” such as the Firehawk Black Hawks are sent in to fight the largest, most threatening fires. The big Black Hawks can safely carry huge 900-gallon buckets, and have cruising speeds of 160-200 MPH, which enables it to access the fire quickly. As the demands of the private sector increase in the areas of border patrol, law enforcement and emergency services, and the increasing needs created by natural disasters (such as Hurricane Katrina), more non-military helicopters such as the Black Hawk, can now be made available.

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