Sikorsky's FireHawk chopper helping battle California wildfires

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Crews battling the ferocious wildfires in California are using a special helicopter made by Connecticut-based Sikorsky.

Sikorsky Helicopters in Stratford is making a military chopper to fight fires, known as the "FireHawk." It's a Black Hawk military chopper outfitted to handle the job, and because of climate change, orders are pouring in.

Sikorsky's Jeanette Eaton says a tank that operates below the helicopter can drop 1,000 gallons of water, and only takes a minute to refill. It also can work at night and in dangerously high winds.

"When you're in Santa Ana winds, they're blowing anywhere from 40 to 80 knots," says Eaton. "There's times that nobody else, except the FireHawk, is out there."

Back home, the increasing orders could mean new jobs. And with the FireHawk costing at least $20 million each, it's big business for Sikorsky.

Sikorsky says it could sell more FireHawks, but says it is hampered by Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal says he wants to do everything he can to cut through the red tape to make the helicopters easily available nationwide.

 

 

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