2023 begins as a year of fire aviation innovations.
Wildfire-focused aviation innovations for the first few weeks of 2023 hold promise for a year of improved aviation tools and techniques. Some of the more recent examples range from financial innovation to foam delivery.
FINANCING: The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) of Jack Creek Investment Corp. collaborated with the long-time aerial firefighting delivery company, Bridger Aerospace Group Holdings, LLC (BAER/BAERW), moving onto Wall Street via the Nasdaq Global Market. Shares began trading on January 25 and dropped by a third on day three, with the company’s market capitalization at a robust $760.64 million. More on process and goals of this business combination at https://ir.bridgeraerospace.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/16/bridger-aerospace-and-jack-creek-announce-closing-of.
Bridger provides a “fleet of firefighting aircraft, which includes ‘Super Scoopers’ (CL-415EAF), air attack and logistical support aircraft .. and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). Bridger also offers FireTRAC (https://firetrac.com), an innovative, proprietary data gathering, aerial surveillance and reporting platform that complements its fleet of firefighting assets.”
AERIAL FOAM: Aerial X Equipment continues to develop and deploy a range of aerial foam engines. As described on their website, “Aerial X Equipment’s Striker Airborne Fire Engine™ is the first airborne platform that produces homogeneous high expansion class A foam. This enables it to become the first aerial wildland fire suppression force multiplier with unique capabilities and a range of capacities.” This foam engine floating in the sky beneath a range of helicopter platforms is claimed to have longer-residency foam due to the use of compressed air (CAFS) – with Aerial X stating residency of 30-90 minutes compared to 1-10 minutes for traditional low-expansion foam. More at https://aerialxequipment.com.
TELEOPERATED FLIGHT: Our prior coverage of Rotor Technologies will continue to be updated, and Fire Aviation articles on other innovations are in progress.
But not all the updates hold such promise or good news.
CRASH SETTLEMENT. A family of a helicopter pilot, Heath Coleman, who died while fighting wildfires in Alberta, Canada, in 2021 due to a faulty rotor pin, has received a $10 million settlement, per a report in AviationPros. At the time, the fatality inspection report led to temporary grounding and rotor-pin inspections of more than 500 Bell 212 helicopters.
K-MAX, GOODBYE. The venerable twin-rotored K-Max will cease production. Over 60 rolled off Kaman’s production lines over 30 years, but limited demand and low profitability led to Kaman’s decision.
The company has committed to support those helicopters already in service. https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2023-01-19/kaman-ending-production-k-max-heavy-lift-helicopter.
PRODUCTION NOTE: Lest we take the pace and utility of tech innovation for granted — the research, writing and posting of today’s article was thanks to satellite connectivity on a cross-country flight which also featured some monitoring of prescribed burns in Louisiana and surveying the snowpack in New Mexico, Arizona and southern California.