Above: Coulson night-flying helicopter, a Sikorsky S-61. Coulson photo.
(Originally published at 11:10 MT February 21, 2018)
Two firefighting helicopters operated by Coulson Aviation will be participating in a night-flying trial in Victoria, Australia. When we first reported on this project, Richard Alder, General Manager of Australia’s National Aerial Firefighting Centre said, “We are just in the process of selecting the helicopters that are planned to be used, and should be able to release this information shortly. We currently have helicopters on contract that use night vision goggles for reconnaissance, mapping, and incendiary dropping, so the planned trial is really about having the capability to extend firebombing into the night.”
One of Coulson’s Sikorsky S-61’s, Helicopter 347, that was already working on a firefighting contract in Australia will be dropping water during the trial. It will be working with another of the company’s helicopters, a Sikorsky S-76, which will provide intelligence, evaluate effectiveness, and identify targets with a laser designator. The S-76 was not in the country but was transported there from Canada in a 747 on February 14.
The video below includes a September trial of the two aircraft working with night vision goggles showcasing how the two aircraft interact with each other.
The trial will begin February 23 in the state of Victoria.