Helicopters Magazine

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Helinet awarded firefighting contracts, launches utilities division

June 11, 2020  By Helicopters Staff

Helinet Aviation adds a UH-60 Blackhawk to California's year-round Firefighting Fleet. (Photo: Helinet Aviation)

Helinet Aviation Services, based at Los Angeles’ Van Nuys Airport, signed contracts that will see the diverse operator add a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to California’s aerial firefighting fleet. The service expansion also signals the formalization of Helinet’s Utility Services division.

The former U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter is on standby at Van Nuys to assist with firefighting missions under call-when-needed contracts with the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire).

Through Helinet’s partnership with the Blackhawk’s two private owners, Brown Helicopter and Anduze Helicopter, the UH-60 is supported by a team of pilots, a fuel truck, back-up equipment and maintenance technicians.

Helinet explains this aircraft is the first of several UH-60 Blackhawks it intends to operate in the aerial firefighting sector over the next few years. The addition of this specialty-equipped firefighting Blackhawk augments Helinet’s existing UH-60 MovieHawk, which has been leveraged for motion-picture and television industry work over the past four years.


When using Bambi PowerFill buckets, Helinet explains the UH-60 helicopter can drop up to 900 gallons of water and can be refilled in less than a minute. Helinet also notes the UH-60 Blackhawk has the versatility to reach the low altitudes required for effective water delivery and to hold flames in check during the early stages of a fire. The Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk cruises at 160 knots and is capable of lifting up to 8,000 pounds of external cargo.

Inside the Sikorsky Firehawk

Helinet’s call-when-needed contracts cover Type 1 helicopters, which are the largest used on fires and must be uniquely equipped to meet federal specifications in the U.S. While the pilot-in-command is required to hold a minimum of 1,500 flight hours, Helinet’s Chief Pilot flying the Blackhawk has logged more than 5,000 flight hours in type.

“At Helinet, helping save lives is our most important mission – from transporting critically ill children and transplant organs to local hospitals to providing turnkey mission solutions for airborne law enforcement and firefighting operations,” said Kathryn Purwin, CEO, Helinet. “Every member of our team is committed to upholding the highest levels of safety while providing critical services to the community.”

In addition to aerial firefighting services, Helinet’s 14 CFR Part 133 and 137 certifications allow the company to perform a range of utility operations including aerial seeding, powerline/pipeline inspection and construction, aerial mapping and on-demand external load air service. Its fleet includes single and twin-engine helicopters.

“We are pleased to expand our helicopter services even further by providing a broad range of utility services while continuing to grow the Helinet brand,” said Helinet’s President and COO Sean M. Cross. “The launch of this new division reflects our ongoing commitment of providing our clients with the most diverse, robust and reliable aviation solutions on the market.”


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