S-61 specialist designs and manufactures upgrades for legacy helicopters.

Rotary-wing pioneer Franklin Carson founded Carson Helicopters on a 25-acre farm in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, in 1958. Over the years, the small, unheated farmhouse grew into an FAA-approved repair station for the upgrading, overhaul, and repair of all major-model helicopters. Today, Carson’s facility spans 81 acres and includes an 84,000-sq.-ft. hangar, a 60,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, an office building, a paint shop, and a heliport.

Carson combines its extensive experience operating, upgrading, and overhauling helicopters with the company’s research and development program to rebuild and modernize the Sikorsky S-61/SH-3 and other legacy aircraft. As part of this work, Carson maintains a partnership with Genesys Aerosystems, which allows Carson to retrofit legacy aircraft with glass cockpits that are IFR certified for Part 29 aircraft.

Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Services
Carson provides complete airframe overhaul and refurbishment, including comprehensive overhaul of major dynamic components, avionics repair and retrofitting, airframe repair and refurbishment, and engine overhauls. Services include painting; the design, certification, and installation of upgrades to maximize helicopter performance; and parts and aircraft sales.

Composite Blade Services
Carson holds over 35 supplemental type certificates (STCs) for improvements and upgrades to rotary-wing aircraft, 29 of which are for the S-61. In 2003, the Carson composite main-rotor blade was certified by the FAA, permitting the S-61/SH-3 to carry an additional 1,700 lb., fly 15 kt. per hour faster, and travel 50 miles farther without increasing horsepower.

Since certification, Carson has manufactured over 1,000 main-rotor blades that are being used worldwide by governments, militaries, commercial operators, and even Marine One, the helicopter used by the president of the United States. In addition to manufacturing blades, Carson performs composite blade repair.

Building on the success of its composite main-rotor blades for the S-61, Carson is currently developing a new composite rotor blade for the UH-60/S-70 Black Hawk. The blade, which incorporates the same airfoil technology as the Carson S-61 main-rotor blade, is designed to increase aircraft performance and extend blade life beyond that of current UH-60 legacy blades.

The new UH-60 blade has been designed and prototyped internally at Carson, with certification efforts taking place at the company’s Pennsylvania headquarters. Designed for both commercial and military customers, the new UH-60 blade will be compatible across the Alpha, Lima, and Mike models of the aircraft as well as the Pave Hawk and Jayhawk variants. Carson is now flight testing the blades, with performance and flight-load surveys scheduled to be completed in 2023 and FAA certification planned for shortly thereafter.

The company is also developing new composite tail-rotor blades and a glass cockpit for the S-61. These products are being designed as a kit that customers can purchase to complete the upgrades locally anywhere in the world.

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Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer is the principal of her own firm, Flying Penguin Communications. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and holds commercial, instrument, flight instructor, and instrument instructor ratings in helicopters and a private rating in airplanes. She has worked as a professional journalist and marketing communicator in the aviation industry since the early 1990s.