GE powers Firehawk Helicopters’ UH-60A firefighting missions

9 March 2017

GE Aviation received a first-of-its-kind exemption from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to sell T700 military-designation turboshaft engines to commercial customers. Within weeks, Firehawk Helicopters deployed two UH-60A helicopters powered by four new T700-701D engines in support of forest firefighting operations in Idaho and Oregon and throughout the Western United States. The FAA exemption also allows GE to sell T700 parts to support the growing commercial fleet of UH-60A helicopters that are being divested by the US Army.

“The T700-701D was the single most cost effective upgrade we were able to make to our recently acquired Black Hawks.  By replacing the legacy T700-GE-700 engines with the current generation T700-GE-701D, we were able increase our available payload in hot and high conditions by as much as 50%,” says Bart Brainerd, President of Firehawk Helicopters.  “The advanced controls of the -701D also provide near instantaneous response to power demands and precision rotor speed control.  We have also noticed they are more efficient when it comes to specific fuel consumption.“

"For more than a decade, the T700-701D’s capability and reliability has been proven in the hottest and harshest environments across the world, making it an ideal solution for Firehawk's firefighting operations,” says Harry Nahatis, vice president and general manager of turboshaft engines at GE Aviation. “This landmark FAA exemption allows GE to pursue similar commercial applications for the T700, which is uniquely suited for heavy lifts during wildfires where the aircraft will routinely lift more than 6-7,000 pounds of water 6-8 times per hour.”

The highly reliable T700 design has proven itself in the harshest environments, logging more than five million flight hours in hot-harsh combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. T700/CT7 helicopter engines power a variety of commercial and military applications including transport, utility and attack, medical evacuation, air rescue, special operations and marine patrol. They serve all five branches of the U.S. military and numerous international customers.

Over the decades, the T700/CT7 line has become increasingly more powerful and reliable. Many technological advances have been incorporated into the subsequent growth versions. Current models in the 2,000-3,000 shaft-horsepower range retain all the proven features and operating characteristics of earlier versions while delivering enhanced performance.

GE Aviation has delivered over 20,000 T700/CT7 engines. The engine has surpassed 100 million flight hours.

Developed for the U.S. Army to overcome the many shortcomings of 1960s-era helicopter engines experienced in Southeast Asia, the T700 turboshaft was designed to operate reliably in any environment and be easily maintained. Upon service entry in 1978 in the Black Hawk, the engine quickly proved its mettle in helicopter service.

Prime turboshaft applications include the Sikorsky Black Hawk, Seahawk, Jayhawk, Pave Hawk, S-70, S/H-92, CH-148 and VIP transport helicopters; the Boeing AH-64 Apache, Bell UH-1Y Huey, AW-1Z Super Cobra,214ST Super Transport and 525 Relentless, Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite, NHIndustries NH90, Leonardo AW101 and AW189 and KAI Surion.