Erickson switches from metal to composite rotor blades for Skycrane fleet

The utility aircraft manufacturer announces FAA approval for its next-generation composite main rotor blades (CMRB) for Sikorsky S-64 rotorcraft.


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Erickson S-65 Aircrane helicopter performing utility work

Erickson Inc. operates and maintains Sikorsky S-64 Air Crane rotorcraft, which will now benefit from its FAA-certified composite main rotor blades (CMRB), replacing previous metal versions. Source | Erickson Inc.


Erickson Inc. (Portland, Ore., U.S.), a leading operator, maintainer and manufacturer of utility aircraft, announced on March 2 that it has received FAA approval for its next-generation composite main rotor blades (CMRB). After many years of manufacturing metal blades, Erickson has invested in the future of the Sikorsky S-64 rotorcraft by designing, certifying and building composite main rotor blades.

Erickson began the process of designing the new blades in 2008, working closely with the FAA and various industry partners. In 2013, Erickson collaborated with Helicopter Transport Services (HTS, Aurora, Ore., U.S.), so the blades could be utilized on CH-54 rotorcraft as well. To maintain close control of blade manufacture, Erickson built a composite manufacturing facility from scratch in 2015.

After thousands of hours of design, testing, and analysis by Erickson’s engineers and partners, the new composite main rotor blades are now approved by the FAA for the S-64E with an initial life that will increase as fatigue testing continues. Certification for the CH-54A is expected to follow quickly in the coming weeks, and certification for the S-64F and CH-54B is expected this summer.

“The CMRB program shows our commitment to innovation and next-generation programs for the modernization of the S-64 Air Crane helicopter and legacy fleet,” says Erickson CEO Doug Kitani. “As an OEM provider and air operator, Erickson continues to push the envelope to find new and reliable solutions to keep our customers flying longer, safer, and always for the best price.” 

Erickson Manufacturing and MRO services include manufacturing the S-64 Aircrane helicopter as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) as well as manufacturing key aerospace parts for aerospace OEMs. Commercial aerial services include the operation of 20 Erickson owned and operated S-64 Aircrane helicopters to perform firefighting, powerline construction, timber harvesting, HVAC and specialized heavy-lift for oil and gas. Founded in 1971, Erickson maintains operations in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Australia.