Two Black Hawks Donated To Maui Rebuilding Efforts


Black Widow Helicopters has announced plans to donate two Sikorsky UH-60L Black Hawks to assist with rebuilding efforts following deadly wildfires on Maui. The company, which runs a modernization program for UH-60s, says it will customize the helicopters to ensure they are “equipped to cater to the specific aerial needs of the community.” Black Widow noted that it will also dedicate resources to keep the donated aircraft flight ready.

“The profound loss of life and property in Maui has deeply resonated with us,” said Todd Dunphy, Black Widow head of corporate development. “Our commitment is solidified with the donation of two of our Black Hawks, dedicated to Maui’s restoration operations that will be pivotal in the foreseeable future.”

The exact cause of the wildfires, which began on Aug. 8, is not yet known. Already the deadliest fire-related disaster in the U.S. in more than 100 years, the confirmed death toll rose to over 90 on Monday with searches ongoing for many people still reported missing. Property damage has been estimated at over $5.5 billion.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. If you read the rest of the press release this is C/P’d from you see this is offering to build two UH-60Ls. It might sound good on paper, but me giving you a couple surplus refurbed Blackhawks that I will deliver many months from now, to me, seems like a publicity stunt and or a tax credit for ships that have very limited utility.

    If you’ve not been following UH-60 market, the US Army is offloading hundreds of high-time UH-60s airframes and the GSA auction dot gov site – half a dozen ships every month, mostly “A” models with serials numbers from the FY80s that still have good component times and excellent mx records.

    Since the FAA is not accepting either the airframes or their parts as conforming to the FAA type certificated Sikorsky S-70, you cannot get a Standard Airworthiness cert for these auction ships and the parts can’t legally be used on the civilian version due to unknown stresses applied to mil airframes. You can get a Restricted use airworthiness cert for them, but it’s only for very specific use (firefighting, movie making, util inspection), and many operators truck them to fire sites since you can’t traverse any kind of crowded airspace with all of these operating restrictions

    For years they have been available cheap at online GSA auction, often getting only one bidder, fetching only a few bucks over the reserve price of $250k. So there is little market for these things, the supply far outpaces the demand. The same half dozen companies, including Black Widow buy these UH-60As at auction every month, then put in the work to refurb roof spar/ modify the engines and update avionics, and they now meet the UH-60L criteria and are sold for fire fighting

    So they are going to give them two ships at some point
    “The company said it would collaborate with nonprofit and philanthropic entities and custom-build the Black Hawks to ensure that they are equipped to cater to the specific needs of the community. ”
    How exactly is that going to work? How long is the build time? The last time we pulled a T700 for overhaul, it came back in four months. They are “building” from a auction surplus “A” model with a tired roof spar. Look at the depot maint manual for how long that takes.

    Assuming it was delivered tomorrow and not Q2 2024, if I gave my 182 to the Red Cross, that’s just a tax write off to make me feel better. They’d have no ability to operate, maintain, fly, fuel, insure, train, etc.
    Running a UH-60 is a million times more complex than a 182. How are local ” nonprofit and philanthropic entities” going to operate this? All my 15T MOS pals will tell you, this think is has a lot of bolts. It is an airframe from the 80s.
    A restricted cert (which is EVERY ship Black Widow ever got an AW cert for according to FAA database) is pretty useless. Where are you going to avoid crowded areas ? No passengers allowed, btw. Who is operating this? The insurance is almost as much the donation for one of these. Who is the “community” that receives the donation and owns it?

    Sounds like someone found a PR opportunity. Otherwise a complete white elephant of a donation

    • Agree with your analysis. The folks in Lahaina need help NOW and not later. Refurbished Black Hawks in the future ARE worthless when the great need is in the present. Worked for PHI as an A&P years ago on the Bell 212/412 and Sikorsky S-76A and maintenance is serious business and labor intensive.

  2. The 2 donated and soon to be fully airworthy UH -60L Refurbed Blackhawks will be delivered in Q3 of FY 2024 to the Maui Emergency Management Office of the States Aerial Division of Fire Fighting and Suppression.