Perimeter Solutions

Maintenance of Q400AT and RJ85 air tankers in Australia

Conair/Field Air RJ85
A Conair/Field Air RJ85 (Bomber 391) at Avalon, NSW for maintenance in 2019. Conair/Field Air photo.

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.

Conair/Field Air RJ85
A Conair/Field Air RJ85 (Bomber 391) at Avalon, NSW for maintenance in 2019. Conair/Field Air photo.
Q400AT air tanker
A Conair/Field Air Q400AT air tanker at Avalon, NSW for maintenance in 2019. Conair/Field Air photo.

NSW RFS installs aerial firefighting simulator

They will soon be adding an Aviation Centre of Excellence to the new Training Academy

NSW RFS Training Academy Aviation Centre of Excellence
Flight simulator at the NSW RFS Training Academy. NSW RFS image.

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.

NSW RFS Training Academy Aviation Centre of Excellence
Flight simulator at the NSW RFS Training Academy. NSW RFS image.

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.

NSW RFS Training Academy Aviation Centre of Excellence
Flight simulator at the NSW RFS Training Academy. NSW RFS image.

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.

NSW RFS Training Academy
NSW RFS Training Academy. NSW RFS image.

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.

The next video is about the Training Academy.

NSW RFS Training Academy Aviation Centre of Excellence
The planned Aviation Centre of Excellence. NSW RFS image.

Broward County’s helicopters respond on 2,500 missions a year

They operate four helicopters, two AS350’s and two EC135’s

Broward County Sheriff Office's Eurocopter EC135, N109BC
Broward County Sheriff Office’s Eurocopter EC135, N109BC. Photo March 5, 2020 by Jon Goldin.

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.

Broward County Sheriff Office's Eurocopter EC135, N109BC
Broward County Sheriff Office’s Eurocopter EC135, N109BC. Photo March 5, 2020 by Jon Goldin.

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.

Broward County Sheriff's Office Fire Rescue Eurocopter EC135, N109BC
File photo of Broward County Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue Eurocopter EC135, N109BC, Dec. 31, 2013 by Jon Goldin.

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.

Broward County Sheriff helicopter, N783BC
Broward County Sheriff AS350 helicopter, N783BC. Photo by Jon Goldin March 25, 2021
Broward County AS350, N782BC
Broward County AS350, N782BC, and the men who operate it. Broward County SO photo, July, 2020.

Helicopter-based wildfire suppression training scheduled for Colorado

National guard units from six states will participate

blackhawk helicopter drops water
South Dakota National Guard Blackhawk helicopter drops water during training at Angostura Reservoir. May 20, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

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.

Blackhawk helicopter drops water
South Dakota National Guard Blackhawk helicopter drops water during training near Angostura Reservoir, May 20, 2016. Photo provided by South Dakota Wildland Fire Division.

Images of the DC-10 working a fire in Mexico

Photo and a video

T-912 on a fire southwest of Monterrey, Mexico air tanker wildfire
T-912 on a fire southwest of Monterrey, Mexico, March, 2021. Courtesy of 10 Tanker Air Carrier.

As we wrote a couple of days ago, Tanker 912 is working on a contract with the state of Coahuila to assist firefighters battling a fire 20 miles southwest of Monterrey in Mexico.

As you can see in the photo above, it is very steep country.

They are based and reloading at the airport in Laredo, Texas about 160 miles northeast of the fire.

The blaze they first dropped retardant on was just west of the Coahuila/Nuevo León state line.

The video below shows one of the retardant drops.

737 vs. Hangar

New South Wales Rural Fire Service's Bomber 210
New South Wales Rural Fire Service’s Bomber 210, a 737 air tanker.

These photos show what appears to be the result of Bomber 210 impacting a hangar and a fence.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service purchased the aircraft from Coulson Aviation in 2019, along with a contract with Coulson for the operation and maintenance of the air tanker.

A spokesperson for the RFS told Fire Aviation:

The NSW RFS is aware of an incident involving its Large Air Tanker the ‘Marie Bashir’ at RAAF Base Richmond.

The aircraft has rolled into a hanger, sustaining damage to the aircraft and the building.

An investigation into the incident has been launched. The aircraft will be grounded while repairs are undertaken.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service's Bomber 210
New South Wales Rural Fire Service’s Bomber 210, a 737 air tanker.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom and Tim.

Two large air tankers relocated to Rapid City for the Schroeder Fire

Two local National Guard Blackhawk helicopters were also used on the fire Tuesday

4:07 p.m. MDT March 30, 2021

Schroeder Fire helicopter
One of the South Dakota National Guard HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters working the Schroeder Fire at Rapid City, March 29, 2021. Photo via Pennington Co Sheriff.

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.

Air Tanker 167 at Medford Oregon
File photo of Air Tanker 167, an RJ85, at Medford Oregon September 9, 2019. Photo by Tim Crippin.

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.

Bighorn Fire Tanker 105 Tanker 10 BAe-146
File photo of Tanker 105 (foreground), an MD-87 operated by Erickson Aero Tanker (N295EA), and Tanker 10, a BAe-146 (N472NA) operated by Neptune Aviation, working the Bighorm Fire near Tucson, June, 2020. Ned Harris photo.

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.

Weather forecast two days before the Schroeder Fire
Weather forecast two days before the Schroeder Fire

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.

Schroeder Fire aircraft
Schroeder Fire as seen from an air attack or lead plane aircraft, March 29, 2021. @PennCoFire photo. The distortion of the propellers is caused by the rolling shutter that is used in most cell phones.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is refreshing their fleet with AW139 helicopters

They have received three of the four ordered so far

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Helicopter #1, an AW139, N911RZ
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Helicopter #1, an AW139, N911RZ. Photo by Jon Goldin.

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.

MDFR helicopters, FAA registrations
MDFR helicopters, FAA registrations, March 29, 2021
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Helicopter #3, N208LC
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Helicopter #3, an AW139, N208LC. Photo by Jon Goldin.

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.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Helicopter #4, N911RA
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Helicopter #4, an AW139, N911RA. Photo by Jon Goldin.

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.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Helicopter #1, an AW139, N217LC
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Helicopter #1, an AW139, N217LC. Photo by Jon Goldin.