Avionics News February 2016 - 24
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worked with the company for seven years. "We've purchased
two UH-60A Blackhawks from the GSA, which we're in the
process of getting an FAA type certificate. We will hold a
restricted category type certificate for these aircraft and be able
to bring them in, refurbish them, perform all the inspections,
install civilian avionics, repaint, and put it out to the market as
a restricted category utility helicopter."
Previously serving as the company's director of
maintenance, Storro now manages the certification and
modification programs for the Blackhawk and is still heavily
provides a variety of
precision heavy lifting
services, from building ski
lifts to setting up power lines
to moving drilling equipment
to construction sites.
involved in the business and oversight of the main facility.
Jorgenson and Storro plan to exhibit the first modified
Blackhawk at the Helicopter Association International HeliExpo 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.
"When a UH-60 comes out of the Army, it has all the
old Army radios in it," Storro said. "It's all low-impedance
systems, and all kinds of electronics that we can't use in the
civilian world. We're working with Eagle Copters, which
bought Geneva Aviation, to install new equipment. The
Geneva P139-HD audio system is just a fantastic system.
We previously installed it in our AStar when we did the
completion and liked the functionality, how user-friendly it is,
how reliable it is. We've opted to incorporate the P139-HD as
standard equipment in the Blackhawks."
Storro sees modernizing the hardworking Blackhawk as
a priority for the company. With the 36-year-old helicopter
retiring from the military, new opportunities and missions
await in the civilian world.
"It's such an incredibly reliable and capable aircraft," Storro
said. "I believe the Blackhawks are going to be the wave
of the future in utility operations, but figuring out how to
modernize them, to bring them up to the industry standards of
today, that's going be the challenge.
"It's a fantastic aircraft. It's designed to be flown by a fairly
inexperienced pilot in combat conditions with a high level of
reliability, just like the Huey in Vietnam. The Blackhawk is
so well designed in the handling and the controls. The hardest
part of the aircraft is learning the systems, because it has three
electrical systems. There are three generators. It has two DC
primary systems. It has all kinds of optional kits for Medivac
and other special missions that make the electrical system
probably the most complicated part of the aircraft. Plus, it has
dual hydraulic systems and two engines. It's a beast."
The U.S. General Services Administration has already sold
100 Blackhawks, according to Storro, many to parts dealers.
A few have gone to companies like Timberline that see the
potential and possibility of retrofitting the helicopters with
new avionics and electronics.
Timberline is working to become an authorized service
center/dealer for other avionics manufacturers, and it's looking
at opportunities to upgrade cockpit avionics to digital displays.
However, as a pilot himself, Storro isn't keen to completely
replace analog instruments.
"I've found talking to a lot of pilots and operators that
moving toward touch-screen avionics has actually been less
than desirable to the helicopter guys," he said. "Helicopters
shake, rattle and roll so much that trying to work with touch
screens versus having a knob you can grab or a button you
can push is proving to be more difficult. It's like trying to use
your cellphone while jogging. Pilots miss the 430 and the 530.
They are more prone to like the 696 than the 796. Knobs and
buttons seem to be a helicopter pilot's friend, especially in
larger helicopters. In our AStar, we still put in button and knob
equipment rather than a touch screen, because our pilots like
to have positive control of their equipment."
With the expected number of Blackhawk cockpit
conversions coming in the future, Storro is in the process of
adding pitot-static and transponder testing capabilities to the
repair station's certificate.
"We want that capability, mainly because part of our
conformity process for the Blackhawks," he said. "We'll be
doing that regularly, so it makes sense to get the capabilities
in-house versus having to have someone drive all the way in
from Spokane. We're identifying things as we go, asking, 'Is it
better to farm this out, or is it better to just get the capabilities
in-house?' It's a case-by-case decision, but with the pitot-static
and transponder testing, that's something we identified that we
needed to do."
Whether building a ski lift, setting up power lines or
moving drilling equipment to a complicated construction site,
Timberline's team loves the challenge.
"We do this because aviation's fun, because it's challenging,
and we get to work with a great team of people who enjoy
what they do," Storro said. "We figured out a way to make this
work for our company, keep the customers happy and, yes,
smile when we come to work in the morning." q