Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU) in Boise, Idaho, announced today the company obtained a supplemental type certificate (STC) from the FAA for NVIS (Night Vision Imaging System) use on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The aircraft, owned by Firehawk Helicopters (Firehawk) with a base also in Boise, will be used for firefighting.
“This certification is essential to Firehawk’s firefighting mission, providing their crews the ability to operate their UH-60 fleet safely while utilizing night vision goggles,” said ASU Director of Business Development Chad St. Francis. “Firehawk can continue the ‘air attack’ into the night, taking advantage of the favorable environmental factors common after dusk, such as decreased winds, lower temperatures, and humidity. Also, ground crews and spotter aircraft can utilize ‘IR pointers’ seen only through night vision devices, providing increased situational awareness, identification and tactical management of priority target areas for an efficient night air attack.”
Before coming to Boise for the modification, the Firehawk UH-60 was deployed to help fight fires in Australia and provided disaster relief after hurricane Dorian. Firehawk currently operates a mixed fleet of nine UH-60 and S-70s and seven Airbus H125 to support wildland firefighting and other commercial endeavors.
“This aircraft was originally configured for military use, which meant the cockpit lighting was minimal for covert operations. We added NVIS compatible flood and map lights and modified several pieces of equipment to optimize the lighting for both daytime and NVG operations,” explained James Haney, ASU Repair Station quality control manager. We were pleased with the modification and enjoyed working with the Firehawk team.”
There were approximately 4,000 UH-60s built, and twelve countries currently operate UH-60s around the world. The versatile Black Hawk airframe is used for various utility missions, including passenger transport, search and rescue, aerial crane, construction, aerial photography and video, and, of course, firefighting.
“This STC is important in continuing to advance the mission of safety for all of ASU’s customers that operate Black Hawk helicopters. There is an increasing number of UH-60s being used in civilian operations. It was great to partner with our fellow Boise, Idaho company on this potentially game-changing STC for firefighting,” said ASU Vice President of Engineering, Kip McDermott.