These photos show Conair/Field Air Q400AT and RJ85 air tankers under maintenance in Avalon, New South Wales, Australia during the Aussie winter of 2019.
The aircraft undergo meticulous inspections to locate and repair the wear and tear that inevitably results from aerial firefighting. A pro-active, thorough evaluation of each aircraft, along with expert maintenance and professional cleaning, can take several weeks depending on the size and complexity of the aircraft type.
They will soon be adding an Aviation Centre of Excellence to the new Training Academy
In 2019 our Australian friends in the New South Wales Rural Fire Service built a Training Academy in Dubbo for improving the skills of fire personnel when responding to emergencies across the state. They soon will be adding an Aviation Centre of Excellence which will have four flight simulators.
One of those simulators is being used now in the Academy, and is based on a helicopter cockpit for trainees wearing virtual reality helmets. The immediate plans are for air attack supervisor roles and later for other airborne positions.
The system will be for maintaining currency, and to give trainees new to aerial firefighting the chance to find out if the role is for them.
The simulator was delivered in December and the staff has been building training scenarios, with some based on actual fire situations.
Located at the Dubbo City Regional Airport, the Academy includes classroom and practical training with a large auditorium, lecture theater, indoor and outdoor training areas, gym, and catering services with a commercial kitchen. The academy will ultimately have 97 bedroom accommodations for trainees.
“I think it’s really important that apart from the fact that we are launching the simulator here, it becomes another building to support our academy,” said Commissioner of the NSW RFS Rob Rogers. “This is the first of four simulators that we will have in that building. Having the ability to train our own people and use simulator systems like this to be able to upskill people in a non-hazardous environment and obviously then complement that with actual flying will help our people become better trained and have access to better technology.”
The video below is an introduction to the flight simulator.
They operate four helicopters, two AS350’s and two EC135’s
In order to help serve and protect the nearly two million residents of their county, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office operates four helicopters for law enforcement, fire, and rescue missions. The county is located north of Miami, with Fort Lauderdale as the county seat.
On average, the aviation unit conducts 2,500 missions a year using approximately 2,000 flight hours. Over the past ten years, it has assisted on 33,397 law enforcement missions and 2,502 medevacs.
The county has four helicopters. Two Eurocopter EC135’s manufactured in 1999 and 2012 are used by Fire Rescue for Emergency Medical Services. Two Airbus AS350’s that came off the assembly line in 2017 are primarily for law enforcement.
The EC-135’s recently received new red livery, which was a significant change from the black, green, and gold theme as seen below in a photo from 2013.
The AS350’s are used for criminal search and apprehension, search and rescue in the Everglades and offshore, and deployment of the SWAT team. They are piloted by Deputy Sheriffs.
All four of the Unit’s helicopters are outfitted with a Forward Looking Infrared system, night vision capabilities, 30 million candlepower Night Sun, moving map systems, and Lojack.
National guard units from six states will participate
National guard units from six states will participate in helicopter-based wildfire suppression training next week along with firefighters from two cities and the U.S. Forest Service.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) will conduct airborne and virtual classroom training April 9th-18th near Longmont with the Colorado Army National Guard. This annual interagency wildland fire training exercise is in coordination with Boulder Fire-Rescue, the City of Longmont, the U.S. Forest Service, and other National Guard units from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, and New Mexico. The majority of aircraft will be flying April 13th-18th.
The training exercises, incorporating federal, state and local authorities, include practicing aerial water bucket drops at Denver-metro lakes and reservoirs to improve coordinated response for air- and ground-based response elements during emergencies.
“This type of interagency training with both our community and military partners to suppress wildland fires ensures unity of effort and speed of response.” said DFPC Director Mike Morgan.
In addition to aerial operations, organizers have planned virtual academic training at the Army Aviation Support Facility, Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. Training will be conducted in a safe, socially distant manner. Months of planning have included coordination with local authorities for site locations, movement of equipment, and environmental considerations.
“This training is an integral part of our overall domestic response training,” said Colorado Army National Guard, Director of Aviation and Safety, Colonel Will Gentle. “We will use this exercise to qualify and validate our aircrews to ensure they are ready to respond to wildland fires. Integrating aircrews with ground personnel adds a dynamic and complex layer of realism.”
The goal is to provide a safe and realistic training environment for comprehensive training, practice, and development of skills for all agencies involved.
Two local National Guard Blackhawk helicopters were also used on the fire Tuesday
4:07 p.m. MDT March 30, 2021
On Tuesday, the day after the 1,900-acre Schroder Fire broke out just west of Rapid City, South Dakota two large air tankers were relocated to the tanker base at the airport.
Tanker 105, an MD-87, flew in from New Mexico, and Tanker 167, an RJ85 arrived from Minnesota.
Each of the tankers had made at least two drops on the fire as of mid-afternoon Tuesday.
Other aircraft working the fire today include a fixed wing aerial supervision module, two National Guard Helicopters, and a PC12 intelligence gathering aircraft owned and operated by the state of Colorado.
The elevated fire danger and the passage of the cold front with 50 mph+ winds which caused the fire to spread very rapidly was predicted two days before the fire started on Monday.
The wind was too strong for any aircraft to be used safely or effectively Monday, so if the aircraft had been proactively prepositioned on Sunday they probably would have been grounded on Monday when the fire was reported that morning. One person we talked to on Tuesday who was not authorized to speak for the firefighting agencies about the air tankers said, “Yesterday the winds were too high. No one wanted to come to South Dakota.” However there was a report that a National Guard Blackhawk based in Rapid City made some marginally effective drops late in the day on Monday after the wind speeds decreased.
If you are a weather geek, you will be fascinated by the data captured as the cold front moved into the Schroeder Fire area on Monday, March 29. The fire was reported at 9:22 a.m. MDT Monday.
They have received three of the four ordered so far
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) has received three of the four Leonardo AW139 helicopters that they ordered in December, 2019, with the fourth due in April. As we noted in a 2015 story about the department’s helicopter fleet, they have been operating four Bell 412 EPs.
The MDFR will use the fleet of four AW139s in a multitude of missions which include emergency medical services, firefighting, search and rescue, and disaster relief.
Two of the new helicopters have shown up so far in the FAA aircraft registry.
Leonardo has received over 1,100 orders for AW139s in more than 70 countries since their first delivery in 2004. The AW139s built for MDFR have the ability to quickly reconfigure the cabin interior based upon which mission the crew will be executing. These new aircraft are equipped with a Goodrich hoist, fast roping, cargo hook, and Bambi bucket for firefighting missions, a Trakka searchlight, a Forward Looking Infrared unit, a mission console in the cabin linked to the 5th display in the cockpit, broadband radios to include USCG Comms, weather radar, and other avionics systems such as traffic alert and collision avoidance (TCAS), obstacle and terrain avoidance, obstacle avoidance detection, and they are compatible for NVG.
The AW139 is able to fly in all weather conditions with advanced protection against icing. It is the only model capable of 60 minutes of flight without oil in the transmission, double the time set by certification authorities.