Drone used to burn debris on power line

drone power line fire debris
A drone uses fire to remove debris from a power line in China. Screen grab from the video below.

Drones are slowly, very slowly, becoming firefighting (and fire-starting) tools. A company in China is using one to burn debris on power lines.

In this video a flame-throwing drone uses fire to remove what appears to be plastic on a high-voltage line.

Earlier we have written about an experimental drone that drops plastic spheres which ignite a prescribed fire after hitting the ground. And the Lockheed Martin and K-Max Corporations have modified a Type 1 helicopter that can be remotely-piloted to drop water on a fire and haul cargo in an external load.

Airborne firefighters in China

Mi-26 helicopter firefighters
Firefighters in China load firefighting apparatus into an Mi-26 helicopter. Photo credit @ChineNouvelle.

These photos reportedly show wildland firefighters in China working with a Russian-made Mi-26 helicopter, which, according to Wikipedia, is the “largest and most powerful helicopter to have gone into series production.”

Mi-26 helicopter firefighters
Firefighters in China work with an Mi-26. Photo credit @ChineNouvelle.

Chinese pilots to train in Canada to fly new amphibious air tanker

AG600 TA-600
AG600/TA-600 under construction. DFNS photo.

Chinese pilots will be training in Canada to fly the new TA-600 amphibious aircraft now being built in China by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

Britton Coulson of The Coulson Group said their company will be training 14 test pilots during two weeks in late July who will be the first to fly the TA-600. The training will include ground, water taxi, flight, and scooping and dropping water. The pilots from China will go through classroom and hands on training using Coulson’s Hawaii Martin Mars aircraft, actually taxiing and flying the huge flying boat.

The new Chinese aircraft will have a 3,000-gallon water capacity, four turboprop engines, can handle a wave height of two meters, and will have a maximum speed of 354 mph (570 kph, 308 knots). The base model for the aircraft is the AVIC TA-600 which is designed to be used for transport, water rescue, or to carry up to 50 passengers. The air tanker version appears to have the AG-600 model name. Both aircraft are similar to what was then known as the JL-600 when we wrote about it in 2010 at Wildfire Today. The maiden flight is expected to take place in the first half of 2016.

Hawaii and Philippine Mars
Hawaii (foreground) and Philippine Mars in 2008. Photo by RuthAS.

Coulson owns two huge water scooping flying boat Martin Mars air tankers, with a capacity of 7,200 gallons of water which can be mixed on board with foam concentrate. However, the two planes, the Philippine and Hawaii Mars built in 1945 and now based at Port Alberni, BC, Canada, have not been used as air tankers in recent years. The Philippine Mars, which retired several years ago, is expected to be traded to the Pensacola Naval Museum in Florida in exchange for some aircraft the museum has in their inventory. British Columbia did not renew their firefighting contract for the Hawaii Mars for 2014.

Mr. Coulson said, “By the end of July both Mars will be serviceable and most likely we will have the Philippine in the water as well getting ready to fly to Pensacola”.

Philippine Mars
Philippine Mars after being repainted in its original colors, July 17, 2014. (Screen grab from a Coulson video.)

Related articles on Fire Aviation and Wildfire Today:

China manufacturing large amphibious air tanker
Wayne Coulson, on the Martin Mars and their C-130
Coulson loses B.C. contract for Martin Mars
Martin Mars finishes fire contract in Mexico, next stop Discovery Channel
Video of Martin Mars’ drop in Vancouver today
Video of Martin Mars dropping on Mt. Wilson
Martin Mars drops 64,000 gallons on two fires

China manufacturing large amphibious air tanker

AG600
An artist’s conception of the AG600.

China is manufacturing a large air tanker that will be amphibious, able to land and takeoff from an airport or the sea. It will have a 3,000-gallon water capacity, four turboprop engines, able to handle a wave height of two meters, and will have a maximum speed of 354 mph (570 kph, 308 knots). The base model for the aircraft is the AVIC TA-600 which is designed to be used for transport, water rescue, or to carry up to 50 passengers. The air tanker version appears to have the AG-600 model name. Both aircraft are similar to what was then known as the JL-600 when we wrote about it in 2010 at Wildfire Today.

The maiden flight is expected to take place in the first half of 2016.

AG600
The nose section of the AG600.
AG600 fuselage
A large portion of the fuselarge of the air tanker was nearing completion on March 13, 2015.

Below is an excerpt from an article at ChinaDaily:

“The AG-600 will meet China’s urgent need for such equipment in forest fire control and maritime search and rescue, and it will form an important part of the country’s emergency response and rescue system,” Huang Lingcai, chief designer of the aircraft at the Zhuhai company said.

Powered by four turboprop engines, the AG-600 will become the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, surpassing Japan’s ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia’s Beriev Be-200, the designer said.

The AG-600, formerly known as the D-600, will have a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 metric tons and an operational range of about 4,500 km. It can be used for a variety of operations, such as passenger and cargo transport, resource surveys as well as marine environmental monitoring, in addition to its foremost tasks of firefighting and maritime rescue, according to Leng Yixun, director of general aviation products at AVIC.

“The seaplane’s major users will be government departments such as forestry authorities, the coast guard and maritime safety bureaus. We estimate our country will need at least 100 such seaplanes within the coming 15 years,” he said.

He added that his company has received 17 orders from domestic customers, including several private general aviation enterprises.

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