New hybrid quad-rotor UAS is being used on fires this summer

It can stay aloft for 12 hours mapping the fire and providing real-time video

FVR-90 hybrid Unmanned Aerial System
FVR-90 hybrid Unmanned Aerial System. Bridger Aerospace photo. (N171RE)

Bridger Aerospace has been operating an unmanned aerial system (UAS) on wildfires this year that first went into production in 2019 built by L3 Latitude Engineering. Their FVR-90 Hybrid quadrotor vertical take-off and landing unmanned aircraft has four rotors and a pushing propeller that can stay aloft for 12 hours. Orbiting over a fire above other aircraft at 12,000 feet it can use standard visual video cameras or heat-sensing infrared technology to monitor and map fires in real time.

In June the system was used on the Sawtooth Fire in Arizona, flying all night to map the perimeter and monitor spread of the fire. The next morning the UAS crew gave briefings to the Operations personnel so they could be armed with the latest intelligence.

Unlike drones that need a catapult to take off or a net to be recaptured, the FVR-90 can use the electrically-powered rotors to take off and then engage the gasoline-powered propeller for forward flight.

The Ravalli Republic has an interesting article about the aircraft being used this week on the Cinnabar Fire southeast of Missoula, Montana. Firefighters on the Sawtooth Fire made an 80-second video about the use of the aircraft in Arizona.

FVR-90 hybrid UAS
FVR-90 hybrid UAS. L3 Latitude Engineering photo.
FVR-90 hybrid UAS
FVR-90 UAS taking off at the Cinnabar Fire, August 30, 2020. (N151RE) InciWeb.
Bridger Aerospace
Bridger Aerospace’s UAS at the Sawtooth Fire in Arizona, 2020. The map was produced using data collected by the aircraft overnight. Bridger Aerospace image.