British Columbia TV station CJDC produced this story at Fort St. John, British Columbia featuring a Bird Dog (aka lead plane) and one of Air Spray’s L-188 air tankers.
Reuters is reporting that the Alberta Government will use drones to help narrow down the point of origin of the huge wildfire that has burned 157,000 hectares (387,000 acres) at Fort McMurray and forced the evacuation of the entire city of more than 80,000 residents.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
…Elevated Robotic Services, which has also deployed drones for mining and construction companies, has contracts with the Alberta government and insurance broker Hub International Ltd [HBINT.UL], said Mat Matthews, the Edmonton company’s operations and safety manager.
The drones use cameras outfitted with infrared, ultraviolet and traditional optical cameras to pinpoint the hottest part of the fire and trace it to its source based on time, wind and other factors. The cameras will shoot about 800 images, which are then stitched together in a process called fire-mapping.
The work begins on Tuesday, coordinated with the other air traffic, including air tankers and helicopters.
The images, if successful, will zero down to a spot on the ground with about a 30-foot (9-meter) radius where the fire is believed to have started. From there, investigators will search on foot for the cause, such as a lightning strike or campfire.
Using the more traditional method of gathering images from helicopters, the fire’s cause could be narrowed only to half an acre, a much larger area to search on the ground, said Ron Windmueller, owner of Droneology, which supplies equipment and other services to Elevated.
Downward wind from helicopter blades can disturb the scene, forcing the pilot to stay about 1,000 feet in the air. A drone can capture images from 100 feet.
The crew of two was transported to a hospital for evaluation.
(UPDATED at 8:59 a.m. MDT, May 7, 2016)
The Whistler Question reports that the pilot of the air tanker that slid off the runway at Manning, Alberta “suffered a medical episode” and the co-pilot was forced to land the plane. This occurred while the aircraft was approaching to land.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
…During the emergency landing at the airport strip, the plane veered off the runway and came to rest in the ditch, luckily without catching fire.
The co-pilot was not injured and walked away from the crash, but the pilot suffered a cut to the head, though he was conscious and breathing when first responders arrived.
His injuries are not considered life-threatening.
Global News had a similar report.
(Originally published at 9:42 p.m. MDT May 5, 2016)
Above: Alberta premier Rachel Notley confirms the air tanker incident at Manning.
An air tanker slid off the runway Thursday at the Manning, Alberta airport. There were no fatalities but the two pilots were being evaluated at a hospital. The air tanker had been working a fire near Manning before the incident.
CBC news quoted Eleanor Miclette, the acting chief administrative officer for the County of Northern Lights, who said the air crew lost control of the plane’s steering and crash-landed at the end of the runway around 4 p.m. The aircraft, a Convair, leaked fuel following the crash but there was no fire.
The position of the aircraft in the photo above is similar to that in the 2010 off-runway excursion of Neptune’s Tanker 44, a P2V, when a hydraulic failure upon landing led to inadequate brakes. The position is reminiscent of Minden’s Tanker 48 in 2014 that had a hydraulic failure causing the nose wheel to collapse while landing.
The cuts mean air tanker contracts end on August 16.
Below is an excerpt from an article at CBCnews:
With wildfires already spreading in Alberta, one air tanker company is raising the alarm on cuts to the province’s fire suppression budget.
Paul Lane, the vice president of Air Spray, said the company’s contract was cut by 25 per cent in the recent budget.
“The province has reduced the operating contracts, for not just us but the other air tanker operator, from 123 days to 93 days,” he said.
“Effectively that will mean that all the air tanker assets in Alberta will come up contract by August 16. The province has no guarantee of availability after that period of those air tanker assets.”
The province reduced the overall wildfire suppression budget by about $15 million.
Premier Rachel Notley said the budget reflects base levels of funding and that emergency funds will kick in if needed for more fire suppression.
“All that happened is a high level of expenditure engaged last year because of the high level of fires was reduced back to the normal amount,” she said. ..
Conair pilots will use an RJ85 flight simulator that will display forest fires on the ground.
Conair has converted several Avro RJ85 airlines into air tankers by adding an external fire retardant tank holding 3,000 gallons. In order to train in a flight simulator the pilots went to Switzerland.
The RJ85 is a variant of the BAe-146, with an 8-foot longer fuselage and more efficient engines. Until air tanker companies in the United States and Canada started converting the two models a few years ago, none have been operated in North America for quite some time, so there was no need for simulators.
Neptune has sent their BAe-146 pilots to train with simulators in the United Kingdom while Minden, when they were working on a BAe-146, had their personnel travel to Australia. But starting in 2017 Conair pilots will be able to train near their own facilities in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
On February 19, Conair announced that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CAE to develop a Wildfire Training and Simulation Centre in Abbotsford.
Under the terms of the MOU, CAE will build an Avro RJ85 full-flight simulator qualified to Level D, the highest qualification for flight simulators. Conair will procure long-term pilot training services from CAE to train their pilots who fly the RJ85.
In addition to the training program for RJ85 aerial firefighting pilots, CAE expects the Wildfire Training and Simulation Centre to be part of a distributed simulation network that connects wildfire training and coordination centers throughout Canada for purposes of conducting simulation-based mission rehearsal for wildfire response.
“Conair is pleased to be partnering with CAE to establish a world-class training centre, which will be another great example of the aerospace and wildfire innovations being developed here in British Columbia,” said Barry Marsden, Chief Executive Officer of Conair. “We are a leading provider of aerial fire control products and services, and as a leader we need our people to be highly skilled and trained. The new Wildfire Training and Simulation Centre will contribute to the preparation and readiness of our pilots and other professionals.”
The Northwest Territorial government has ordered $26 million worth of single engine air tankers, an acquisition that will add new eight Air Tractor 802 Firebosses to their fleet.
Below is an excerpt from an article at CBC News:
…This is the first time the territorial government has bought new water bombers, which are used to fight fires. It inherited the current fleet of Canadair C-215s, which were introduced in 1969, from the federal government for $1.
The minister of environment and natural resources, Wally Schumann, says it makes more sense to buy the new Air Tractor 802 Fireboss aircraft than to upgrade the old fleet.
“I think the cost of doing that, from everything I’ve seen, would have been four times or five times the cost of purchasing these new Firebosses,” he said.
The government plans to issue a request for proposals this spring for the operation and maintenance of the fleet.
It could have asked contractors to provide a fleet of aircraft as well as operate and maintain them, but Schumann says many northern companies would not have been able to bid on it.
“The biggest benefit of us, the GNWT, owning a fleet of aircraft is the larger chance of Northern aviation companies to participate in the operation of the tanker based fleet,” Schumann said…
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Doug.
The airport at Estevan, Saskatchewan will be set up as a temporary air tanker base for Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment’s firefighting aircraft.
Located 4 miles north of Estevan and 14 miles north of the US/Canadian border, it will be used for fires in the southern parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and in North Dakota and Montana.
The airport, officially known as Estevan Regional Aerodrome (CYEN), recently had its runways resurfaced; the longest one is 5,003 feet.
The plan is to bring in two or three 5,000-gallon tanks and a retardant mixing system with pumps to reload air tankers.
The facility will be evaluated over the next two years to determine if the ministry will make the base permanent. If they do, they will invest more money into infrastructure.
Saskatchewan recently joined the Great Plains Interstate Fire Compact, a bilateral agreement that facilitates the sharing of ground and air firefighting resources among six U.S. states and Saskatchewan. In September the Canadian province sent two aircraft, a CV-580A air tanker and a Turbo Commander Bird Dog, on site visits to Estevan and Pierre, South Dakota to check out the airports and meet the local fire personnel.
Bombardier has shut down their plant in North Bay, Ontario where they have been finishing the work of building CL-415 air tankers after the aircraft have been assembled in Montreal. The CL-415 and its predecessor, the CL-215, are among the very few purpose-built air tankers, designed from the wheels up to very specifically drop water on fires. Most air tankers used today have been converted after being discarded by the military and passenger airlines.
Below is an excerpt from an article in the Bay Today:
…Isabelle Gauthier, the Director of Communications for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft confirmed to BayToday that, “We will not be renewing our lease going forward” at North Bay’s Jack Garland Airport.
The lease ends in April 2016, but Bombardier was required to give at least 90 days notice Gauthier said.
“There are currently no aircraft in production,” explained Gauthier,”It didn’t make any business sense to continue.”
North Bay’s facility was for finishing the aircraft after assembly in Montreal, and three had been completed this year but no more were on the horizon.
“We need sales,” said Gauthier. “We need commitment to continue production.”
She said if sales are made, they may attempt to reopen the North Bay facility but “it’s not like turning on a light switch”.
“Activities are continuing for more sales”, she said, and Bombardier is “keeping the door open” to further involvement in North Bay if there are significant sales of the aircraft in future.
The video below was shot at Santa Fe Dam in January, 2014 where two CL-415s under contract with Los Angeles County were scooping water while working the Colby Fire at Glendora, California, east of Los Angeles.