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Sikorsky S-61N

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Eurocopter AS332 L / 532 U2
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G-BIMU Sikorsky S-61N MkII c/n 61752 - Bristow Helicopters 'Coastguard Rescue' - Leeuwarden AFB in Holland - 27 May 2009 more at Leeuwarden Air Base

The Sikorsky S-61N is a twin-engine medium utility helicopter with a sealed hull for amphibious operations that can accommodate a basic crew of two and up to 26 passengers. The Sikorsky S-61N is built by the American manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and based on the military Sikorsky SH-3A/S61B Sea King series originally developed in the late 1950s for all-weather operations. The Sikorsky S-61B prototype flew on 11 March 1959 and the type entered service with the U.S. Navy as the SH-3A Sea King in 1962. The Sikorsky S-61N and its non-amphibious configurated variant Sikorsky S-61L are based on and essentially a commercial equivalent of the military S-61B incorporating a number of changes, including a longer fuselage. The Sikorsky S-61L was flown for the first time on 6 December 1960 and received its FAA Type Approval on 2 November 1961. The S-61L entered production the same year. The Sikorsky S-61N with sealed hull and stabilising SH-3's floats flew first on 7 August 1962. The S-61N version is optimized for overwater operations, particularly oil rig support. The initial production S-61s were fitted with two 1250shp General Electric CT58-110-1 turboshafts. Both the S-61L and S-61N were subsequently updated to Mk II standard with more powerful CT58-140 engines giving better hot and high performance and other improvements and detail refinements. Production of the commercial Sikorsky S-61s ended in 1979 with over 1300 built. The ICAO Aircraft Type Designator for the S-61N helicopters is S61.

The 1974-built Sikorsky S-61N c/n 61752 was test flown as N4024S. The helicopter was registered VH-CRU in Australia but was restored to the US register as N4042S with Evergreen Helicopters. In February 1979, the aircraft was noted as VH-CRU at Sydney-Bankstown and the aircraft was restored to the Australian register as VH-CRU with Commercial Aviation on 21 December 1979. Finally, registration VH-CRU was cancelled and on 17 November 1980, the Sikorsky was registered in the USA as N8511Z with Evergreen Helicopters of Alaska Inc., Anchorage, Alaska. On 31 December 1980, registration N8511Z was cancelled as exported to the UK. On 9 January 1981, the aircraft was registered G-BIMU in the UK with British Caledonian Helicopters Limited at London (Gatwick) Airport. BCHL - British Caledonian Helicopters Limited operated the G-BIMU "Loch Fyne" on the Gatwick-Heathrow Airlink Helicopter Service that was operated in the period 1978-1986. In autumn of 1987, BHCL was sold to Bristow Helicopters, with the sale completed in November 1987. Sikorsky S-61N G-BIMU was registered with Bristow Helicopters, Aberdeen, on 22 May 1990. In service with Bristow, the G-BIMU was operated and maintained on behalf of the UKMCA UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on the HM Coastguard services and stationed at MRCC Sumburgh. On 24 August 1994, during a rescue operation of two injured climbers on Stac Pollaidh, West Scotland, a tip of the main-rotor stroke on the rock face giving damage to all five rotor blade tips and shock loading to power train. The helicopter was forced to a heavy emergency landing. When restored in flying condition, the helicopter was named 'Stac Pollaidh'. After being replaced on 1 October 2007 in HM Coast Guard services at Sumburgh by the new Sikorsky S-92 helicopters, the G-BIMU was leased to CHC Scotia and relocated to MRCC Stornoway in the Hebrides as an interim aircraft while waiting for the CHC Scotia S-92s to be delivered. After Sikorsky G-BIMU returned from the lease early 2008, Bristow Helicopters directed the aircraft to Den Helder in the Netherlands. At Den Helder the G-BIMU was used by Bristow in company with Sikorsky S-61N MkII G-BDOC on their NOGEPA offshore SAR contract. On 1 January 2010, Bristow replaced Sikorsky G-BDOC on the NOGEPA SAR contract by Sikorsky S-61N MkII G-BPWB. On 1 January 2014, the NOGEPA SAR contract with Bristow came to an end and the Sikorsky helicopter returned to the UK and was stored at Norwich Airport on 16 January 2014. Registration G-BIMU was cancelled on 8 October 2015 as exported to the USA. Sikorsky G-BIMU 'Stac Pollaidh' was one of the participant of the SAR-meet at Leeuwarden AFB and was photographed during an exercise at the airbase on 27 May 2009.

page last updated: 11-10-2015
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands
 

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