Helicopter crews fighting high-rise fires will soon be able to see through smoke via an Astronics Max-Viz enhanced-vision system (EVS) attached to a Simplex SkyCannon (water cannon). Portland, Ore.-based Simplex recently reached an agreement with Astronics, also in Portland, to install the Max-Viz EVS camera as standard equipment on all newly designed SkyCannon fire-fighting systems and add it to legacy systems as time allows.
In typical use, the Max-Viz EVS uses infrared sensors, signal processing and a cockpit display to show pilots terrain, runways, taxiways, aircraft and obstacles in poor-visibility conditions. When the system is installed on the SkyCannon, only the cannon operator will see the EVS display, which he or she will use to identify the hottest part of the fire and to see parts of the fire outside his or her field of view.
In operation the SkyCannon boom faces out to the side, perpendicular to the aircraft heading. “We believe this will allow for better crosswind usability and will also allow the pilots to concentrate on flying rather than flying and fighting the fire,” said Larry Lichtenberger, Simplex vice president. “And, it will also give the aircraft a much better emergency path in the event of engine failure.”
In August, Simplex announced its first orde for SkyCannon to Japan Aerospace for installation on a Eurocopter EC225 for use in Tokyo. Delivery is expected next year with operations to begin in 2015.