Kaan Air Australia, Sikorsky and StarFlight
Australia have signed an agreement worth up to AU$63 million to
bring 10 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters into Australia,
with options for an additional 10 aircraft.
The ten ex-US military Black
Hawks will be imported into Australia early next year.
Hawks will brought up to ‘as new’ condition and repurposed
specifically for aerial firebombing operations during future
bushfire seasons around Australia and New Zealand and for
year-round emergency services and disaster relief work.
The aircraft will be refurbished and maintained
in Brisbane by Sikorsky.
John Skeen, chief
executive officer of Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia,
said the deal would assist
emergency services in filling a significant gap within Australia’s
firefighting and disaster relief resources.
“This is a
game-changer for aviation in Australia. The purchase of 10 plus 10
optioned Black Hawks represents a significant milestone for the
firebombing and disaster relief helicopter industry in Australia,
particularly in terms of efficient rotary wing attack to reduce
loss of life and property during bushfire events,” said Skeen. “The helicopters are being purchased by an Australian company,
will be registered in Australia and most importantly, will be
fully maintained and supported in Australia by the helicopter OEM
Sikorsky and its supply chain commitment, helping to boost local
jobs in the area and guaranteeing ongoing supply chain support of
our Black Hawk fleet.”
Kaan Air is one of Europe’s
leading helicopter utility operators and a renowned helicopter
manufacturer (OEM) distributor for AgustaWestland and Russian
Helicopters. It has significant operational experience in
helicopter firefighting, off-shore and Air Medical Service
businesses. In 2015 Kaan Air Australia established a joint venture
under the StarFlight name with LifeFlight Australia.
Air Australia Chairman, Mr. Ferda Yildiz, said, “We are very happy to
be able to take part and contribute to the helicopter firefighting
and disaster relief effort within Australia and further strengthen
our ties with a very distinguished OEM, Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin. We aim to expand this cooperation beyond Australia
in other parts of the world in similar projects using the
expertise of our Australian company.”
The initial 10 Black
Hawk helicopters have been hand-picked by Sikorsky for their
suitability in aerial firebombing and external heavy load lifting
ability, and will be made available by StarFlight to assist
emergency services and fire agencies in bushfires and natural disasters across the country.
The Black Hawks will undergo three
months of extensive refurbishment, including new high performance
engines, upgraded gear boxes, installation of Helicopter Terrain
Awareness and Warning System (HTAWS) and a general overhaul which
will be carried out by Sikorsky at its Pinkenba facility in
StarFlight Australia will be the operator of the