Agencies issue safety alert about working around large helicopters

The federal wildland fire agencies issued advice for firefighters, to consider the safety implications and massive water dropping capabilities of the six CH-47D and BV-234 Type 1 helicopters that are now on contract.

Safety alert chinook

safety alert chinook helicopters

First modernized Be-200 amphibious air tankers rolled out

Above: A Be-200ES rolls out for the public while another makes a demonstration water drop.

On Monday, May 30 the Beriev Aircraft Company rolled out the first Be-200ES firefighting aircraft produced at their Tanganrog manufacturing facility. The versions introduced to the public yesterday have been “modernized”, according to the information from the company, with a reinforced airframe and upgraded avionics.

They expect to flight test and deliver two aircraft this year from the Tanganrog factory, and by 2017 hope to produce four annually for the next five years. Orders have been placed by Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations for six Be-200ES aircraft to serve as air tankers, while the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered one Be-200ES capable of fighting fires and another four of the Be-200PS version that would serve other purposes.

Beriev has been manufacturing the Be-200 since 2003. The aircraft can land or take off on water or land, and the firefighting version can scoop water to refill its tanks. It can be converted to haul passengers or serve as a search and rescue aircraft, landing on water to retrieve victims if necessary.

Specifications:

  • Engines: two high-mounted turbo jet, D-436DTP
  • Max cruise speed: 700 km/h, 435 mph
  • Economic cruise speed: 560 km/h, 349 mph
  • Operational altitude: 8,000 m, 26,000 feet
  • Water tanks, maximum capacity: 12,000 liters, 3,170 gallons
  • Minimum speed while dropping: 200-250 km/h, 124-155 mph
  • Minimum drop height: 50 meters, 164 feet
  • Maximum wave height while scooping water: 1.2 m, 4 feet

Be-200ES Be-200ES

Be-200ES Be-200ES

All photos by Fotografersha.

Colorado requesting information about methods for transmitting near real-time fire information to firefighters

Above: One of Colorado’s two Pilatus PC-12 “Multi-mission Aircraft” at McClellan Air Field, March 23, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

This article was originally published on Wildfire Today.


Colorado’s Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting is requesting information from vendors who could supply equipment that would transmit from aircraft near real-time information about wildfires directly to firefighters on the ground.

The state’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control recently acquired two Pilatus PC-12 Multi-Mission Aircraft. Sensors on the planes can detect and map the location of fires and transmit near real-time spatial data, still images, and short video clips to the Colorado Wildfire Information Management System (CO-WIMS), a web-based situational awareness platform. Fire managers can log into CO-WIMS to view fire perimeters and the other data generated by the aircraft. Firefighters on the ground who have access to the system can view the information as long as they have a good 4G cellular connection. However, many remote areas do not have cellular service.

Colorado’s Request for Information is asking for descriptions and prices of systems that could get this data directly into the hands of firefighters actively engaged in suppressing a fire. Responses are due by June 13, 2016.

This could supply half of the Holy Grail of Wildland Firefighter Safety, providing to firefighters near real-time information about the location of a fire. The other half is near real-time information about the location of firefighters.

Colorado's Pilatus PC-12 "Multi-mission Aircraft"
Guy Jones, one of the pilots for Colorado’s Pilatus PC-12 “Multi-mission Aircraft”, explains the sensing capabilities of the aircraft’s equipment at McClellan Air Field, March 23, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean.

Air Tractor enters UAS market, acquires Yield Defender

Air Tractor, the Texas company that manufactures single engine air tankers and crop dusters, has acquired Hangar 78 UAV, and its flagship aircraft, the Yield Defender unmanned aerial system (UAS).

“We have done our research, and it’s clear that aggressively investing and further developing unmanned aerial systems into agriculture will enable Air Tractor to remain an industry leader and provide the latest technology to ag producers as UAS capabilities mature and are integrated into the industry,” said Jim Hirsch, President of Air Tractor.

Yielddefender
Yielddefender

Sensors available on the Yielddefender aircraft include near infrared and will “soon” enable 3-D mapping and thermal imaging. The company designs their systems for “real estate agents, farmers/ranchers, search and rescue, mining, oil and gas, forestry and many more”.

I wonder if Air Tractor is looking way down the road at converting the 802A into an autonomous UAS night-flying crop duster.

Air Tractor 802A
Air Tractor 802A. Air Tractor photo.

 

Chinook with internal tank apparently used on Foss Lake Fire in Minnesota

Judging from the photo above and another that we first used at Wildfire Today (duplicated below), it appears that a Chinook helicopter with an internal water tank is being used on the Foss Lake Fire in northeast Minnesota. This may be a first.

In the photo above you can see the draft hose coming out of the side of the helicopter as the ship descends over the lake. And below, the water appears to be exiting the helicopter from the center of the belly.

We have written a couple of times about the development of an internal tank for the Chinook, here and here.