As AIN was going to press, the first of four S-64 Aircranes arrived in Italy (see 'Vintage heavy lifter gets new-generation avionics'). It was due to make its inaugural flight on October 15.
Despite the media attention on the Montana fires last summer and Southern California fires in October, last year’s fire season didn’t come even close to being the worst in recent times, according to statistics generated by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) of Boise, Idaho.
Some forest fires start with a blast of jagged lightning, incinerating the dry timber and flinging the flaming fragments into the tinder-dry underbrush from which flames soon reach skyward.
“We need the Mars! Get the Mars!” shouts a frantic firefighter over the VHF fire frequency. A wildfire is racing up a hillside on the eastern fringe of Osoyoos, B.C., Canada, and seems certain to engulf a house in its path. Helicopters are bucketing water onto the flames in an effort to slow the fire’s advance, but still the flames leap up the side of the valley unimpeded.
Last year was something of a landmark in helicopter firefighting activity. During one of the driest summers on record in the northern hemisphere, rotorcraft were deployed for long periods–often to areas where they had not been needed before–to stem the progress of flames.
Hellenic Aerospace Industry and Irkut have signed a memo of understanding paving the way for future cooperation in the event that Greece buys the Beriev Be-200 fire-fighting aircraft. Kyriakos Linakis, HAI’s chairman, said the MoU provided an opportunity for the two companies to cooperate in maintenance and manufacturing. If Greece opts for the Be-200, the country will use the airplane for search and rescue, patrol and other operations.
FAA certification of the Bell 210, a single-turbine medium helicopter derived from the military UH-1H Huey, could happen this month, Bell CEO Mike Redenbaugh said at the Paris Air Show this week. “Our flight testing is complete, FAA pilots have flown the helicopter and now we’re just waiting for approval of the paperwork,” he added.
U.S.-based Hawkins & Powers Aviation recently signed a letter of intent to take eight Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR715-powered Beriev Be-200 amphibious jets from Russia’s NPK Irkut. At the signing ceremony, NPK Irkut President Alexei Fedorov said the Be-200 program “is achieving global recognition.”
In the aftermath of last fall’s California wildfires–the state’s most destructive ever–a “blue ribbon” commission last month heard tacit admission that a state rule requiring firefighting aircraft to land a half-hour before sunset may have allowed a controllable blaze to become a huge, deadly conflagration.
Sabreliner Corp., a name long synonymous with the business jet market, has turned to designing and installing custom interiors in government VIP helicopters.