Billings Flying Service (BFS) received a CFR exemption from 14 CFR 21.185(b) earlier this month, allowing it to proceed with the United States’ first ever restricted category airworthiness certification of ex-foreign military Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters. BFS took delivery of six CH-47Ds from the Netherlands Defense Ministry in mid-2023.

“Though seemingly small, approval of our FAA exemption to certify ex-Netherlands aircraft is a major milestone for BFS,” said BFS President Bridger Blain. “This is the first approval of its kind for CH-47s, and has only been granted rarely in other circumstances. This exemption allows BFS to grow the fleet and better support foreign and domestic governments with heavy firefighting assets.”

Two of six Billings Flying Service CH-47 Chinooks from the Netherlands Defense Ministry.

BFS has already begun the application process for restricted category airworthiness certification. All the aircraft are equipped with glass cockpits, NVG compatibility, and auto hover features. Additional modifications are being performed at BFS’ Certified FAA Part 145 and AS9110C MRO facilities to equip them for firefighting and to meet fire contract equipment requirements. Should the certification process remain on schedule, the aircraft will enter service later in 2024.

The CFR exception is just the latest ‘first’ for BFS. In November 2023, BFS won the first ever 90-day exclusive use firefighting contract for CH-47s in South Korea. The five aircraft contract began earlier this month.

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