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Kaman Composites - Wichita Announces Contract with Boeing

Aviation Specialties Unlimited Announces NVIS FAA STC for UH-60

Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU) recently announced 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, Idaho, 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-60s and S-70s and seven Airbus H125s 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 12 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.

34 Mar/Apr 2021

Kaman Composites – Wichita Inc. recently announced it has been awarded a contract by Boeing to manufacture the refueling boom assembly for the MH- 47 program. The MH-47 is an in-flight refuelable version of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The boom assemblies will support MH-47 new-build production, as well as MH-47 Block II ReNew modifications.

“Kaman has a long-standing partnership with Boeing, and we are pleased to continue that relationship with this new MH-47 Refueling Boom program,” said Shawn Hawks, general manager, Kaman Composites - Wichita. “Bringing the boom assembly work to Wichita is exciting for the community and our experienced workforce.”

“The MH-47 program is one that we are very familiar with, and we look forward to supporting Boeing once again on this well-established program,” said Mark Withrow, vice president & general manager, U.S. Composites. “The units will support both production and spares requirements. The Wichita team is well prepared to deliver for this important customer.”

As part of the integration of this program, Kaman Composites - Wichita will expand its facility to accommodate the increased production scale that the assemblies will require. These improvements are currently underway in preparation for the start of the program in the second half of 2021.

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