Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky agrees world-first Brisbane refurb program

Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia have signed an agreement to bring 10 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters into Australia as part of a world-first refurbishment program based in Brisbane.

The aircraft will be refurbished and maintained by the manufacturer, Sikorsky – a Lockheed Martin company – and will offer Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia partner to usher in a new era in Australian emergency services and disaster relief aviation.

The deal includes the option for an additional 10 aircraft and will boost regional aviation jobs, potentially creating more than 50 pilot and technical jobs in the long term, including apprenticeships. 

John Skeen, Chief Executive Officer of Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia, welcomed the new agreement and said the deal would assist emergency services in filling a significant gap within Australia’s firefighting and disaster relief resources. 

“This is a game-changer for aviation in Australia,” he said. “The purchase of 10 plus 10 optioned Black Hawks represents a significant milestone for the firebombing and disaster relief helicopter industry in Australia, particularly in terms of efficient rotary wing attack to reduce the loss of life and property during bushfire events.

“The helicopters are being purchased by an Australian company, will be registered in Australia and most importantly, will be fully maintained and supported in Australia by the helicopter OEM Sikorsky and its supply chain commitment, helping to boost local jobs in the area and guaranteeing ongoing supply chain support of our Black Hawk fleet.”

General manager of Sikorsky Australia, Andrew Rushbrook, said that as the original manufacturer of the Black Hawk helicopter, there is “no company better positioned to refurbish and maintain” the aircraft. 

Kaan Air is one of Europe’s leading helicopter utility operator and a renowned helicopter manufacturer (OEM) distributor for AgustaWestland and Russian helicopters. In 2015, Kaan Air Australia established a joint venture under the StarFlight name.

Kaan Air Australia Chairman, Ferda Yildiz, said it was an important and significant deal for his company.

“We are very happy to be able to take part and contribute to the helicopter firefighting and disaster relief effort within Australia and further strengthen our ties with a very distinguished OEM, Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin,” he said. 

“We aim to expand this cooperation beyond Australia in other parts of the world in similar projects using the expertise of our Australian company.“