Erickson adds another firefighting services contract

Erickson Air-Crane has picked up an eighth firefighting services contract, providing another S-64 Aircrane and crew for the U.S. Forest Service.

Erickson secured seven contracts in December and its services already are in heavy demand in what has been an active fire season in the West. The latest deal calls for a helicopter and crew to be based in Boise, Idaho this summer.

Udo Rieder, Erickson's president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday the new contract will lead to more activity at the company's Willow Springs Road plant in Central Point.

"It means more flying and more flying always means we need more parts manufactured and parts repaired — what we do in Central Point," said Rieder. "It will help provide more work for Central Point."

The Forest Service contracts include an option to be extended three years.

Rieder said the majority of Erickson's 17 helicopters are in service at the moment. Three are in Colorado and likely will stay there even after the massive wildfires that have scorched thousands of acres are mopped up. Another helicopter and crew has been moving throughout New Mexico, Utah and Nevada.

A few weeks ago, Congress responded to a growing shortage of aging fixed-wing air-tankers. While that's not what Erickson does, the pressing need didn't hurt the Portland-based company's efforts.

"The bid involved many different types of helicopters and one of four that was selected," Rieder said.

"I think this was already in the mix before that became known, but it may have accelerated things a bit."

Rieder said the establishment of a new government in Greece on Wednesday also may help the company. Greece defaulted on payments for an Erickson helicopter contract that has since been replaced with a contract with NATO.

"We still have a receivable outstanding and having a government solidified will accelerate collecting this receivable," Rieder said. "We see it as a good thing ... stability is always good."

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