A recently reposted YouTube video has provided a stark reminder to cockpit crews that airport rescue service response times are not consistent around the world. The 2007 video was shot at Okinawa in Japan during a fire that destroyed a China Airlines Boeing 737 as it sat at the gate. A ground worker can be seen approaching the inferno with a fire extinguisher before fire trucks arrived.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will resume contract night helicopter firefighting operations in Southern California next year. The announcement was made recently after the USFS evaluated a study it commissioned that was completed in 2010. That study found that helicopter night operations can mitigate the costs and risks of wildfires by retarding their size.
An Oregon jury has awarded William Coultas, his wife and the widow of pilot Roark Schwanenberg $69.7 million in a damages suit brought in the 2008 “Iron 44” crash of a Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N. The verdict puts General Electric alone on the hook; other parties settled out of court before the trial. The helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from a helispot while conducting firefighting operations in Northern California. Schwanenberg and eight others aboard the helicopter died.
Simplex Aerospace is adapting its third-generation Aerial Cleaning System (ACS) into an aerial firefighting system for high-rise buildings. Ground-based firefighting equipment can reach only the first 11 floors of a high-rise, leaving an obvious gap in the ability to contain fires in higher up floors, Simplex vice president of sales and marketing Larry Lichtenberger told AIN today at Heli-Expo.
One of the largest and longest-lasting wildfires in the Midwest significantly taxed available helicopter assets, destroyed nearly 100,000 acres and sent smoke plumes into the sky that could be detected by satellites and smelled as far as 450 miles away in Chicago. Across Lake Superior, parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula were enveloped in dense smoke for days.
Bristow is offering a new six-day course, “Wildland Fire Orientation for Rotary Wing Pilots,” covering “basic knowledge of fire behavior, wildland fire operations and the role of helicopters in fire suppression and prescribed burning.” Students will participate in two modules developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG): S-190 Introduction to Fire Behavior and S-130 Firefighter Training.
A pair of Columbia Vertol II tandem-rotor helicopters have been fighting record Texas wildfires at Alpine, Sonora and Brownwood. One aircraft joined the firefighting efforts on March 3 and a second was called in April 22. The Texas wildfires have consumed more than 1.4 million acres since January, with related smoke reaching major metropolitan areas.
Bill Coultas still struggles to make sense of what happened.
In the wake of a stinging critique issued by the Los Angeles County Fire Department after last year’s Station Fire, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is reviewing its ban on most nighttime aerial fire fighting. The Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest raged for nearly two months before it was contained, but not until it had destroyed 250 sq mi of forest (160,000 acres) and 96 homes.
Simplex Manufacturing of Portland, Ore. (Booth No. 1547) announced here yesterday it has delivered one of its next-generation fire-fighting systems to Hafei Aviation Industry, a subsidiary of Harbin Aircraft Industry Group in the People’s Republic of China.
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