FX LLC Secures Cal-Fire S-70i Training Contract Win

Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk from PZL Mielec on display in Berlin in 2012. Photo by Julian Herzog.

Leaders in industry first Upset Recognition and Recovery Training selected as training provider for Cal-Fire as department transitions from Bell Super Hueys to Sikorsky S-70i helicopters for firefighting operations.

On August 3rd of this year Cal Fire awarded a hotly contested contract to replace the departments aging Super Huey fleet of twelve helicopters to Sikorsky who pitched the Sikorsky S-70i. Competitor Leonardo Helicopters, fielding a variant of the widely used AW189 swiftly filed a protest on the award the following day, which was formerly dismissed this week, paving the way for the contract to move forward.

Sikorsky, who partnered with Air Methods subsidiary United Rotorcraft on the fit out of the helicopters will supply S-70i helicopters made in Poland by Sikorsky subsidiary PZL Mielec. Other providers of components to fit out the S-70i helicopters include Becker Avionics, UTC Aerospace, Breeze Eastern, Churchill and Kawak Aviation.

Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk from PZL Mielec on display in Berlin in 2012. Photo by Julian Herzog.
Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk from PZL Mielec on display in Berlin in 2012. Photo by Julian Herzog.

FX LLC’s founder Chuck Aaron and business partner Kevin Bredenbeck, who recently retired as chief experimental test pilot for Sikorsky worked relentlessly to provide the ultimately successful bid to provide services that include all test and evaluation flights of the new S-70i helicopters as they are received, all initial and recurrent training in the S-70i for all of Cal-Fire’s fifty current pilots as they transition from the Super Huey Fleet into the Sikorsky airframe. Speaking in an interview with Collective Magazine after the last hurdle to the contract progressing was cleared after Leonardo’s protest was dismissed, Aaron and Bredenbeck detailed that the Cal-Fire contract states that all training will not take place in the new departmental aircraft and that FX LLC is working with an industry partner that will be providing training aircraft.

Longtime friends Bredenbeck and Aaron spent several months designing and developing the three day course students would take. Photo by Chuck Aaron
Longtime friends Bredenbeck and Aaron spent several months designing and developing a three day HRRT course that began their biusiness partnership. Photo by Chuck Aaron

“We look forward to beginning work with Cal-Fire and training their pilots to continue to protect the citizens of California from wildfire threats,” said Aaron. “The Blackhawk and especially the Firehawk have, and continue to play such an important role in so many humanitarian operations around the world for many years. It is great to see this transition finally taking place so that now the civil sectors of the industry are able to see how this airframe can further enhance operations and safety with the capabilities the Blackhawk brings. Which is something those who have flown them in the military already know, but is still something being demonstrated as the civilian market begins to have more access to these helicopters.” said Bredenbeck.

Kevin Bredenbeck spent a career as an Army officer flying Blackhawks bedfore becomming Sikorsky's chief test pilot, flying the Sikorsky X2 into the record books - the helicopter that would eventually spawn the development of the S-97 raider aircraft. Photo by Sikorsky Aircraft.
Kevin Bredenbeck spent a career as an Army officer flying Blackhawks bedfore becomming Sikorsky’s chief test pilot, flying the Sikorsky X2 into the record books – the helicopter that would eventually spawn the development of the S-97 raider aircraft. Photo by Sikorsky Aircraft.

In addition to FX LLC providing physical training and evaluation of aircraft, simulator training will be provided by Flight Safety for all Cal-Fire pilots also as part of the contract award.

To read more on the initial contract award, read our article here. To read more about FX LLC’s HRRT training course, read our article here.

Chuck Aaron & Kevin Bredenbeck, arguably two of the most experienced helicopter pilots in the business when it comes to non standard flying decided that there wasn't enough real world training opportunities to deal with IIMC, so they set about solving that problem themselves. This business objective then progressed into other contract bidding like the training provisions for training in the UH-60/S-70 platform. Photo by Ryan Mason
Chuck Aaron & Kevin Bredenbeck, arguably two of the most experienced helicopter pilots in the business when it comes to non standard flying decided that there wasn’t enough real world training opportunities to deal with IIMC, so they set about solving that problem themselves. This business objective then progressed into other contract bidding like the training provisions for training in the UH-60/S-70 platform. Photo by Ryan Mason

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