Aircraft History, Specification and Information
Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane
Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane Helicopter - C-GESG - Canadian Air Crane
1968 Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane - C-GESG (sn 64065)
Canadian Air Crane
Photo taken July 01, 2004 near Lillooet, BC Canada
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane is an American twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter. It is the civil version of the United States Army's CH-54 Tarhe. The S-64 Aircrane is the current production version, manufactured by the Erickson Air-Crane company.


Under Sikorsky

The Sikorsky S-64 was designed as an enlarged version of the prototype flying crane helicopter, the Sikorsky S-60. The S-64 had a six-blade main rotor and was powered by two 4,050 shaft horsepower (3,020 kW) Pratt & Whitney JFTD12A turboshaft engines. The prototype S-64 first flew on May 9, 1962 and was followed by two further examples for evaluation by the German armed forces. The Germans did not place an order, but the United States Army placed an initial order for six S-64A helicopters (with the designation YCH-54A Tarhe). Seven S-64E variants were built by Sikorsky for the civil market.

Under Erickson

Originally a Sikorsky Aircraft product, the type certificate and manufacturing rights were purchased from them by Erickson Air-Crane in 1992.

Since that time, Erickson Air-Crane has become the manufacturer and world's largest operator of S-64 Aircranes and has made over 1,350 changes to the airframe, instrumentation, and payload capabilities of the helicopter. The Aircrane can be fitted with a 2,650-gallon (~10,000 litre) fixed retardant tank to assist in the control of bush fires, and it has proved itself admirably in this role.

S-64 Aircranes have been sold to the Italian and Korean Forest Services for fire suppression and emergency response duties. Those in the Erickson Air-Crane fleet are leased worldwide to organizations, companies, and Federal Government agencies for either short-term or longer term use in fire suppression, civil protection, heavy lift construction, and timber harvesting.

Erickson is manufacturing new S-64s, as well as remanufacturing existing CH-54s. Erickson gives each of its S-64s an individual name, the best-known being "Elvis", used in fighting fires in Australia. Other operators, such as Siller Brothers, have followed with their Sikorsky S-64E, Andy's Pride. The Erickson S-64E nicknamed "Olga" was used to lift the top section of the CN Tower into place in Toronto, Canada.


Sikorsky Skycrane

Twin-engined heavy-lift helicopter, 3 built.

Six test and evaluation helicopters for the US Army.

Civil version of CH-54A, 7 built.

Erickson Aircrane

Upgraded & certified CH-54A helicopters, plus one new build aircraft.

Upgraded & certified CH-54B helicopters. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-5A engines.


  • Canada
    Canadian Air-Crane (Erickson Air-Crane Canada), British Columbia – 1 S-64E, 1 S-64F
  • Germany
    Two S-64As were tested and evaluated by the German Armed Forces in 1962.
  • Italy
    Corpo Forestale dello Stato (Italian Forest Service) – 4 S-64F
  • South Korea
    Korea Forest Service – 4 S-64E
  • United States
    Columbia Helicopters
    Erickson Air-Crane
    Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. Sold all to HTS
    Helicopter Transport Services, LLC – 3 CH-54A, 7 CH-54B, 1 S-64E
    Los Angeles City Fire Department (under contract with Erickson Air-Crane)
    San Diego Gas and Electric San Diego, California – S-64F (N237AC)


  • N189AC "Gypsy Lady" – crashed in Rose Valley, California late 2006. Rebuilt and back in service.
  • N198AC "Shirley Jean" – S-64F; sold to European Air-Crane c.2006 as I-SEAD; crashed in Italy on 2007-04-26. Aircraft was destroyed in a post-crash fire.
  • N248AC "Aurora" – S-64E; named after Aurora State Airport. Home to Columbia Helicopters, former owner of aircraft. Crashed on August 26, 2004 in Corsica, killing its Canadian pilot and French co-pilot. The Air-Crane was chartered by the interior ministry to fight fires on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. It had been fighting a fire and it went down near the village of Ventiseri as it was trying to return to a nearby military base because of a technical problem due to inflight breakup.

Specifications (S-64E)

General characteristics
Crew: 2 (pilot, co-pilot), plus room for one rear-facing observer
Capacity: up to 5 total persons
Payload: 20,000 lb (9,072 kg)
Length: 70 ft 3 in (21.41 m (fuselage))
Rotor diameter: 72 ft 0 in (21.95 m)
Height: 18 ft 7 in (5.67 m)
Disc area: 4070 ft² (378.1 m²)
Empty weight: 19,234 lb (8,724 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 42,000 lb (19,050 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-4A (T73-P-1) turboshaft engines, 4,500 shp (3,555 kW) each

Maximum speed: 109 knots (126 mph, 203 km/h)
Cruise speed: 91 knots (105 mph, 169 km/h)
Range: 200 nmi (230 mi, 370 km) max fuel and reserves
Service ceiling: 9,000 ft (2,743 m)
Rate of climb: 1,330 ft/min (6.75 m/s)

Last updated November 19, 2011
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane".
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