Collins Aerospace Systems announced today at HAI’s HeliExpo that the Goodrich 44318, its newest rescue hoist, has been selected by a trio of California aerial firefighting agencies to equip their latest helicopters. The Los Angeles County Fire Department and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) have chosen the unit for their new S-70i Firehawks, while the Santa Barbara County Fire Department will install the hoist in an HH-60L Blackhawk helicopter it is having converted to firefighting configuration.
The 44318 hoist is an advance to the 44311, which has been operating on L.A. County’s S-70s since they entered service nearly 20 years ago and meets current regulatory standards for human external cargo (HEC)—more stringent requirements that allow work crew members or rescue responders to remain on the cable longer for transport or emergency missions. The hoist features a 600-pound-maximum lift load and allows operators to make continuous rescues without a required cool-down period.
The 44318 and its sister 44316 (differing only in AC or DC current operation) are the only HEC-certified hoists on the market and are in service on several platforms, including the Leonardo AW189, AW169, and AW139; Airbus EC225; and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries UH-60J.
“As Firehawk fleets expand, Collins Aerospace is proud that operators continue to equip them with Goodrich rescue hoists,” noted Nicholas Demogines, Collins’s director of business development for its hoist and winch unit. He added that the company is honored to deliver its customers innovative, reliable solutions to support their life-saving missions. “With decades of experience and more than 7,000 airborne hoists throughout the global fleet, Collins is a leader in the helicopter hoist rescue community.”
The Goodrich winch and hoist unit joined Collins a little more than a year ago as part of the merger with UTC Aerospace Systems. It began in the 1970s as Western Gear, which was acquired by Lucas Aerospace, which was in turn bought by TRW. Goodrich later owned the business, which still retains the brand name for its hoist and winch product lines.
Today, the hoist and winch division has merged with the company’s cargo activities as part of Collins’s mechanical-systems business unit, which also includes actuators, landing gear, and propellers. “The names change, but the products are still out there,” said Demogines, during a pre-HeliExpo media tour of the company’s Brea, California, engineering, assembly, and MRO facility. “We still see Western Gear products coming back, so they are in operation around the world.” Over its more than 40 years of existence, the company has been a pioneer in the evolution of the helicopter rescue hoist, from the initial internal units to external and then hydraulic and electric units to the current HEC-rated models, which are being used for missions beyond search and rescue. Other applications include servicing offshore wind turbines and power lines, as well as transferring harbor pilots to and from ocean-going vessels.
It is a highly specialized piece of equipment, but for those customers who require it, having a dependable, durable hoist is the difference between the helicopter being operational or listed as AOG. “We’ve had customers that say we can’t do the job without the hoist,” said Richard Bryson, program chief engineer for Goodrich Hoist and Winch. “The aircraft doesn’t really matter. I can buy this, this, or this, but I need that hoist.” The company has a second design and manufacturing facility in the Paris suburb of Saint-Ouen L’Aumône, as well as six other MRO shops globally. The newest, which was established in Xiamen, China, in 2018, greatly helps the customers there who find it difficult to ship units and parts in and out of their country for servicing. A similar MRO facility is being considered for South American customers as part of Collins Brazil.
At the Brea location, the MRO process is embedded alongside the new hoist assembly line. As in-service units return to the facility for repair and/or overhaul, they undergo three hours of testing to diagnose any problems before being torn down, and repair quotes are issued. As the quotes are approved, the units join the queue for cleaning, replacement of necessary parts, and reassembly. They are then diverted back into the main assembly stream where they undergo the same eight to 10 hours of rigorous testing that newly manufactured units are run through before being shipped back to the customer.
Coming Soon: Generation Five
With nearly a half-century of hoist design under the company’s belt through its several name changes, the process until now has been evolutionary, but that is changing with the development of Collins Aerospace’s first fifth-generation hoist, which, while still in prototype form, is expected to enter service in 2021. The company has distilled everything it has learned over the past four decades to create the blank-sheet-design model; and in honor of that achievement, it has eschewed its normal numerical nomenclature and selected the name Pegasus. An example of the hoist will be on display at the Collins Aerospace booth (6333).
In a “voice of the customer” initiative, Collins Aerospace interviewed its operators and their maintenance departments to learn what they desired in a hoist and to hear “the good, the bad, and the ugly” about their products. As a result, the company designed the HEC-compliant Pegasus with a suite of improvements, according to Bryson, including modular architecture, with the ability to simplify maintenance by allowing users to field-swap interchangeable modules in case of problems, rather than remove the entire unit. The hoist will require no special tools, have easily removable fairings, and offer better visibility for the cable drum.
It will also be thoroughly sensor-equipped, through the manufacturer’s data acquisition, sensing, and health system (DASH), relaying not only mission parameters to the operator but also health diagnostics through application-based software. DASH will be able to be incorporated into the aircraft’s own health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) or provide stand-alone reporting for the unit. The Pegasus hoist will weigh 106 pounds with a cable movement speed of up to 400 feet per minute and a 600-pound required load. The prototype is undergoing environmental testing in the company’s Brea lab, including electromagnetic interference evaluations, which are becoming more important due to the increasing amount of electronics on today’s aircraft. Once the design is frozen and moves into the production phase, units will be sent to outside labs for certification testing.