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PH-NZR Sikorsky S-61N c/n 61808 - KLM Helikopters - near the Ericsson plant in Emmen, Holland - 8 September 1990 helicopters in Emmen

The Sikorsky S-61N is a twin-engine medium utility helicopter with a sealed hull for amphibious operations that can accommodate a basic crew of two and up to 26 passengers. The Sikorsky S-61N is based on the military Sikorsky SH-3A/S61B Sea King series originally developed in the late 1950s for all-weather operations. The Sikorsky S-61B prototype flew on 11 March 1959 and the type entered service with the U.S. Navy as the SH-3A Sea King in 1962. The Sikorsky S-61N and its non-amphibious configurated variant Sikorsky S-61L are based on and essentially a commercial equivalent of the military S-61B incorporating a number of changes, including a longer fuselage. The Sikorsky S-61L was flown for the first time on 6 December 1960 and received its FAA Type Approval on 2 November 1961. The S-61L entered production the same year. The Sikorsky S-61N with sealed hull and stabilising SH-3's floats flew first on 7 August 1962. The S-61N version is optimized for overwater operations, particularly oil rig support. The initial production S-61s were fitted with two 1250shp General Electric CT58-110-1 turboshafts. Both the S-61L and S-61N were subsequently updated to Mk II standard with more powerful CT58-140 engines giving better hot and high performance and other improvements and detail refinements. Production of the commercial Sikorsky S-61s ended in 1979.

On 31 May 1978, Sikorsky S-61N s/n 61.808 was registered LN-OQN in Norway with K/S Helikopter Service A/S, Oslo. On 3 April 1986, the 1978-built Sikorsky S-61N was registered PH-NZR in the Netherlands with KLM NV, operated by KLM Helikopters BV. The PH-NZR was mainly used on offshore flights first out of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, later out of Den Helder-De Kooy. In 1991, Rowan Companies Inc., owner of ERA Aviation Inc., bought 49% shares of KLM Helikopters BV and the company was renamed KLM ERA Helicopters BV. On 12 October 1993, the PH-NZR was registered with KLM ERA Helicopters. Between mid 1994 and mid 1995, the PH-NZR participated as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force as UN191 in Croatia as replacement of the damaged Sikorsky S-61N PH-NZD. In 1997, Schreiner Luchtvaart Groep BV bought the 51% shares of KLM in KLM ERA Helicopters BV. On 30 January 1998, Rowan Companies Inc., announced that it had terminated its 49% interest in KLM ERA Helicopters and sold to Schreiner Luchtvaart Groep BV. As payment for their shares in KLM/ERA Helicopters BV, Rowan Companies Inc. received a distribution of assets consisting of cash, two Sikorsky S-61N helicopters, including the PH-NZR, spare engines and parts. The equipment would be utilized by the Company's subsidiary, Era Aviation, Inc. As a result of this transaction, the PH-NZR was registered to Rowan Drilling Aviation (Netherlands) BV, on 11 February 1998. The same day, registration PH-NZR was cancelled and on 12 February 1998, the helicopter was temporary registered N563EH in the USA. On 18 February 1998, the helicopter was registered as N563EH with ERA Aviation Inc., Anchorage, AK, USA. Since, the registered owner changed to ERA Helicopters LLC, Lake Charles, LA. On 15 December 2008, registration N563EH was cancelled as exported to Brazil. The Sikorsky S-61N2 was registered PR-AEL in Brazil with Aeroleo Taxi Aereo Ltd., Rio de Janeiro, as operator and ERA Helicopters LLC as owner. On 5 November 2011, registration PR-AEL was cancelled. On 17 March 2014, Sikorsky S-61N c/n 61808 was registered N619CK in the USA with Croman Corp., White City, Oregon. On 8 September 1990, Sikorsky S-61N PH-NZR was seen in Emmen, the Netherlands. That day, King Gustav of Sweden was one of the guests at the opening of the new plant and research centre of Ericsson Radio Systems in Emmen. The guests were flown in by KLM Helikopters with two Sikorsky S-61N: PH-NZI #1 and PH-NZR #2. The helicopters landed in a meadow opposite the Ericsson facilities.

page last updated: 14-10-2014
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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