The crew of a forward fire controller aircraft orbiting the recent Dog Rock fire in Yosemite National Park said the Cal Fire-operated S-2F3AT tanker that crashed October 7 might have collided with a tree before it struck the ground, according to the NTSB preliminary accident report. The accident killed the pilot, and post-impact fire destroyed the aircraft.
Wildland fire suppression
The Helicopter Association International will look at operational and flight safety issues faced by aerial firefighters and provide an overview of the upcoming 2015 fire season next month (November 17 to 19) at its firefighting safety conference in Boise, Idaho. The conference includes an interagency briefing with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. Attendance is free but advanced registration is required.
Cal Fire’s fleet of 22 converted Grumman S-2T firefighting tankers received a structural clean bill of health from the NTSB that allowed the aircraft to return to normal flight status, the company announced last week. The approval came four days after a pilot was killed when his aircraft crashed in steep terrain near Yosemite National Park. Cal Fire immediately grounded the fleet of S-2Ts to safeguard crews until structural and aging-aircraft issues could be addressed.
State-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (Avic) brought its Avicopter rotorcraft unit to Heli-Expo for the first time.
Portland, Ore.-based Simplex (Booth No. N2511), known for its unique, easily convertible aerial firefighting spray booms, announced that it is teaming with Advanced Helicopter + Rescue Techniques (AH+RT), also Portland-based, to provide rotary-wing aerial firefighting and technical rescue training, including turnkey solutions for customers.
After nearly two months of record forest fires from Michigan to California, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) added four more leased heavy helicopters to its firefighting fleet in late June. The additions include two Sikorsky S-61s from Siller Helicopters, an Erickson S-64 Air-Crane and an S-70 from Firehawk Helicopters. A spokesman for Erickson said that last year the company had six helicopters flying USFS contracts; this year that number is eight. The USFS said the helicopters will be used for large-fire support and in the initial assault both to drop retardant and support ground crews.
The fatal crash of a Neptune Aviation Services Lockheed P2V (callsign “Tanker 11”), while doing fire suppression work on the White Rock Fire near the Nevada-Utah state line on June 3, has caused the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to reexamine its firefighting capabilities in the region. The NTSB is investigating the accident.
Simplex Aerospace recently received FAA STC approval for its third-generation, high-pressure Aerial Cleaning System (ACS), used in the cleaning of power-line insulators and windmill blades. ACS, which consists of a belly water tank and a side-mounted nozzle boom, is certified for use on Eurocopter AS350 and AS355 helicopters. (A 120-gallon, second-generation power-wash system is also certified for the Bell 407.)
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.
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