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AERIALFIRE THE

AERIAL

FIREFIGHTING

MAGAZINE

JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021

CONAIR RJ85

MAKING THE TRIP DOWNUNDER

Aerial Firefighting Thrives in Brazil

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In This Issue of AERIALFIRE... Volume 19 Number 1 | January / February 2021 12 Aerial Firefighting Thrives in Brazil 20 The RJ85 Makes the Trip Downunder 26 Blue Sky Network’s Scottsdale, Arizona Facility Receives the AS9100 Certification 28 ASU President Jim Winkel Retires, New President and COO Named 32 Conair’s AT-802 FTD Certified to Level 5 34 Kestrel/Erickson Air Crane Starts Australian Season Fighting Fire at Mt. Cottrell, Victoria 36 Precision Aviation Group, Inc. (PAG) Acquires EFIX Aviation Support (EFIX) 38 Skyline Aviation Prepares to Bring First Australian Seahawk into Firefighting Operations 42 Perimeter Solutions Launches Next-Generation, Flagship Long-Term Fire Retardant 44 McDermott Aviation Drops Over One Million Liters on Fraser Island Fire 46 International Fleet Begins Return to Australia for Fire Season

In Every Issue of AERIALFIRE... Monthly Columns and Sections 06 The Drop | Ryan Mason 08 Aerial Fire Pics

P.O. Box 850 • Perry, GA 31069 USA 475 Myrtle Field Rd. • Perry, GA 31069 USA PHONE: 478-987-2250 FAX: 478-352-0025 info@aerialfiremag.com • aerialfiremag.com AerialFire is published by

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© Copyright 2021 AerialFire retains all rights for reproduction of any material submitted, to include but not limited to articles, photographs, emails and bulletin board posts. All material remain the copyright of AerialFire. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in part or whole, without the written consent of the publisher. Editorial published do not necessary reflect the views of the publisher. Content within AerialFire is believed to be true and accurate and the publisher does not assume responsibility for any errors or omissions. Unsolicited editorial manuscripts and photos are welcomed and encouraged. We cannot be responsible for return unless submissions are accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Advertising deadline is 12 noon, on the 1st of the month preceding the month of publication. AerialFire (ISSN 1081-6496) Published bi-monthly by Blue Sky Investments, Inc., 475 Myrtle Field Road, Perry, GA 31069 for $19 USD for one year in the U.S.; International rates are $29 USD for one year.

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THE DROP

Ryan Mason ryan@aerialfiremag.com

2020 Can Shove It There, I said it. 2020 has been such a staggeringly difficult year for so many people. As we all struggle with the daily complexities of living in the post-COVID world, I am struck almost daily with the absurdities of response to the virus on both a state and local level. At least in Georgia, we are not subject to the draconian repeated shutdowns, like those forced upon Californians who barely had a chance to open back up industry before the governor swiftly locked down the state again, citing “high infection numbers.”

of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff are allowed to return from anywhere in the world and quarantine in their own homes with no such restrictions.

While I am not oblivious to the dangers, I am as a person, tired of the constant back and forth of seeing my local government entities go from “we are doing well” to “lock it back down.”

My concern for the aerial firefighting world and the Australian people is that another massive fire outbreak occurs during the pilots’ 2-week quarantine period. Meanwhile, dozens of aircraft and pilots are not allowed to fly their aircraft during their quarantine time, leading to massive losses of life and property given the right weather circumstances.

The untold cost of this virus extends past purely being monetary losses. There are those suffering from various levels of isolation from immediate family members, and of course, the children that can’t maintain a solid learning environment as school districts bounce from in-person to virtual from week to week out of an apparent “abundance of caution.” I get it, but the frustration continues for those families that work outside the home, which complicates their lives substantially. As our aerial firefighting focus moves from North America to Australia as we head into winter and Australia moves into their scorching summer months, those who fight aerial firefighting’s international effort are also about to be severely inconvenienced by COVID protocols down under. Despite having a meager amount of COVID cases, Australia has, for over six months now, been requiring new entrants to the country to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel at the entrants’ expense, to the tune of $3000 for the two weeks. Pilots arriving from North America can look forward to two weeks locked in a room with no windows that open and three meals of questionable quality hand-delivered each day. Meanwhile, in an article I read today, Australia’s Department AF 6 | aerialfiremag.com

The one size fits all Australian government approach in combating the virus appears to lack consistency in cases such as the DFAT employees and even a famous recording artist who was recently allowed to return to Australia on a private jet selfquarantine at their country estate by the government.

I don’t wish that upon anyone by any means, but I think there is also a more logical approach that could be taken when it comes to essential workers entering a country. I recently traveled to Kodiak, Alaska, for a wedding. Due to Alaska’s cases being almost nothing, they required people flying into Alaska to arrive with a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure, which I and everyone else on board did before traveling there. Simple, effective and the state of Alaska still maintains its virtually zero case result. Alaska is much like Australia in its remoteness and lack of easy access, so why can’t Australia, even for the sake of the small numbers of aerial firefighting pilots and crew that will be arriving over the next month, take a leaf out of Alaska’s book. Fly safe,


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A Croman Helicopters S-61aattacks the Apple Fire in California. Photo by Brenden Murawski AirstrikeSuper P-3 Orion drops load retardant in in Soutehr Photo byPhoto Jeff Serpa. A An Canadair Scooper drops a of load of water AugustCalifornia. in Palermo, Sicily. by Eliana Pensato

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AERIALFIRE AERIAL FIRE PICS

A Siller Helicopters s-64 Skycrane dips for a load of water in Northern California. Photo by Cole Euken

CalFire firefighters await a pickup from copter 305 from the Prado Helitack base in California. Photo by Ryan Winner

An Erickson Air Tanker DC-10 drops on a fire front as sun sets. Photo by Brock Lash. A Siller Helicopters S-64 pickups up a load of water during the summer fire season. Photo by Mike Murawski.

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SDFD’s new S-70i Firehawk on the ramp. Photo by Ryan Creigh/Creigh Photography

Heli Austria’s H225/EC225 ‘Firecat’ leaving Heli-Expo 2020 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Damon Duran.


AERIALFIRE AERIAL FIRE PICS

European Air Crane’s S-64 on operations in Italy in 2020. Photo by Marco Bianchi

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Aerial Firefighting Thrives in Brazil by Lucas Zanoni Zanoni Equipamentos

2020 was characterized by the rise of agricultural aircraft as an indispensable tool for environmental protection in the country.

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Another season of fires in Brazil is about to begin. Last season, the country faced some of the same dilemmas as years past: a lot of misinformation about agricultural aviation contrasted with a great deal of dedication from the agricultural aviation industry to preserve the country’s natural wealth. Dozens of Brazilian agricultural aircraft have flown in recent months to fight fires across the country, predominantly in the southeast, midwest, and Bahia state regions. Despite the environmental challenges that the world has been facing, Brazil still has to do a better job coordinating aerial firefighting efforts. 2020 was a year of considerable success for the agricultural aviation industry transitioning into providing aerial firefighting support.

History of Aerial Firefighting in Brazil Adjustment of the Zanoni mechanical gate in western Bahia

Aerial firefighting has been a function of Brazilian agricultural aviation since 1969, but the last decade represented a significant industry change.

(photo submitted by Luiz Henrique Donatti Teixeira, pilot of the aircraft during the test flight).

With the arrival of larger aircraft to the Brazilian fleet, and more significant organization in both the public and agricultural sectors, aviation has come to represent an essential tool for preserving forests and the control of fires in fields and crops. Recently, agricultural aviation companies began to make more significant investments across the country, acquiring new technology and training pilots specifically for the aerial firefighting mission. In 2006, Zanoni Equipamentos developed its first mechanical fire gate for Tucano Aviação Agrícola, one of the first companies to work in Brazilian aerial firefighting. Located in Primavera’s city do Leste (Mato Grosso), Tucano works in partnership with several other companies in the Previncêndio firefighting project in Minas Gerais. A few years later, Tangará Aeroagrícola pioneered a project in São Paulo. The company acquired an Air Tractor AT-502 for aerial firefighting and quickly sought training with Chilean aerial firefighting pilots who had a great deal more experience in the aerial firefighting arena. Since 2013, Minas Gerais has hired agricultural aircraft to fight fires, hiring Pachu and Imagem agricultural aviation companies to complete these

contracts. In addition to public administration deals, the cellulose and sugar cane producers in São Paulo also set up fire brigades and also hired agricultural aviation companies for aerial firefighting contracts. The agricultural industry started this service as a way to protect its crops and to maintain legal mandatory forest reserves (Brazilian farmers are obliged to allocate at least 20% of their private property for forest preservation, and, in some regions of the country, this legal obligation can reach up to 80% of the farm). Brazil’s midwestern states have also stood out in aerial firefighting, as they have a large part of the agricultural fleet in Brazil. This has provided continuous assistance in regions such as the Pantanal wetlands, Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, Savannas and the Amazon. In 2015, after testing with an Air Tractor from Rondon Aviação Agrícola (based in the city of Tangará da Serra), Zanoni Equipamentos launched the first electro-hydraulic fire gate manufactured in Brazil, which has been installed by Serrana Aviação Agrícola. The two companies have become well-known in the region, being instrumental in firefighting operations in recent years. The Federal District has, just as in previous fire seasons, hired aircraft and later acquired some of them. The same happened in Mato Grosso. In addition to government contracts and the acquisition of a public fleet, large agricultural producer groups have also started to assemble firefighting brigades. This is also the case for Brazilian company Bom Futuro, which equipped several Air Tractors this year to protect their crops and forest reserves. According to data from the SINDAG, a Brazilian organization similar to the United States’ National Agricultural Aviation Association: “In 2019, agricultural aviation companies flew at least 350 hours fighting fires throughout Brazil - in the Amazon and natural forest reserves and crops in the Midwest and Southeast of Brazil. There were more than 1.8 thousand salvos of water made to control fires.” ➤ aerialfiremag.com | AF 13


Serrana Aviação Agrícola pilots at a firefighting operation (L-R) Caio Balzan,

Pilot Gustavo Borges started aerial firefighting about four years ago, having carried out a few small and medium-sized missions in the Ivinhema region (in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul). After joining the Serrana team, he started to participate in operations with aircraft specifically equipped for aerial firefighting. Last year, he participated in missions in Chapada dos Guimarães National Park and in the Amazon forest (near the city of Porto Velho), which were featured in the 2019 October editions of AgAir Update and AerialFire magazines.

Gustavo Borges, Adriano Pereira Corrêa and Adilson Ursulino. The company has been active across the midwest region of the country.

The following month, Serrana closed a fifteenday contract in Paraguay. In 2020, Gustavo participated in a task force in the Pantanal wetlands, which involved several companies from throughout Brazil and is still actively containing fires there. “In Chapada, it was a fire that was around the national park. It was a small outbreak. There were several outbreaks in the Amazon, not necessarily in the Amazon, but in areas close to it. In Paraguay, the fire was different: 10, 15, 20 kilometers of fire lines, there it was savannas [or Chaco, as Paraguayans call it]. Eight months

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without rain, it was very dry, and the vegetation was about two to three meters tall, a lot of dry material, pure fuel.” Borges said. “We arrived with two Air Tractor AT-502s on the first day, and they only had one truck with five thousand liters of water to service them. With the experience we had at the time, we suggested doing some firebreaks, but there was a great deal of resistance from NGOs to use this technique. So the fires only went out when the rains came. I then worked on a farm near Corumbá city, where we also had a fire that was difficult to control. Now we are in the Pantanal, where agricultural aircraft have been working to contain the fires for several weeks,” he continued. Borges also highlighted the value of working in partnership with the brigade members, stressing that the flying can be innocuous without their help. The general impression is that firefighting with agricultural aircraft has advanced and become popular in the country. However, he points out that there are still areas where Brazil can considerably improve, such as


the regulation and permission of the use of retardants and the greater use of satellites for fire outbreak mapping - two crucial technologies for the success of aerial firefighting. Another company providing aerial firefighting services in 2020 was Pachu Aviação Agrícola. The company, led by pilot and SINDAG director Marcelo (China) Amaral, promoted the first Brazilian Training Course for agricultural pilots in aerial firefighting. With twelve agricultural pilots’ participating, theoretical classes and practical flight training took place in July 2020. Each pilot had to make at least four salvos to a target representing a fire point, along with communication training, circuit, approach, attack, and return. The classes were held in the city of Olímpia (São Paulo) at Pachu’s headquarters. The missions were flown in tandem instruction in an Air Tractor AT-504 with a capacity of 500 gallons of water, equipped with a Zanoni fire gate. The course was so successful that it is now being planned for May of 2021. The course will coincide with the First International Conference of Professionals in Fire Fighting held in Brazil. The training provided is not just recommended for pilots,

Borges stated. It should also be made available to all personnel who manage firefighting activities, such as coordinators and the ground fire brigade. These key individuals need to receive training and qualify for integrated work between all teams so that the goal of extinguishing fires can be achieved in less time with fewer resources. In addition to initiating training for Brazilian pilots, Pachu was very successful containing fires in the Pantanal wetlands, a crisis scenario that has gained prominence in national and international media. Since August, the company has been part of the task force in the region. Pilot Fernando Petrelli from Pachu reports the main challenges faced in 2020: “In general, based on our experience not only in the Pantanal but also in other regions, I think there is a lack of communication and logistics structure. With more monitoring, we would be able to attack outbreaks sooner. When fires reach a certain level, they become more challenging to control. I believe the work has been instrumental, but when fires reach a certain level, they get more complicated. My impression is the trend to use agricultural aircraft more. The private agricultural industry is beginning to use it in Brazil, something that has not happened before. If there were more investments and government resources, we ➤

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would undoubtedly have better logistics, more aircraft, and we could have a more preventive fight; thus, we would be more effective. I believe the industry needs to become a little more professional to enter into a standard so everyone understands and speaks the same aerial firefighting language. I have seen where many people are firefighting without a standard; each one is doing the way they want. We need more professionalism, a line for everyone to follow. Regardless of the company that is hired, everyone does the same quality of work and guarantees the effectiveness of agricultural aircraft in firefighting, proving that it works.”

Imagem Aviação Agrícola Imagem Aviação Agrícola has been active in aerial firefighting since 2006. The company, located in Monções, São Paulo, started working with the state’s government in some regions designated by the fire department. Initially, Imagem installed a Zanoni manual fire gate. But, it later converted to the Zanoni hydraulic gate. The company currently has four Air Tractor AT-502s and one AT-402 for firefighting. Lieutenant-Cel instructed the team. Rodrigo Tadeu de Araújo of the local fire department offers ongoing training for their pilots and technicians. More recently, local agricultural groups and farmers contract most of the company’s services in this area. The managing partner of the company and vice president of SINDAG, Jorge Humberto Morato de Toledo, reports his experience in 2020: “Until last year, we had operated through the government, via the military and state government. Last year, we started to make direct contracts with the private sector, mainly the sugarcane mills we fly for. This year we had many demands.

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All of them were in the private sector. We operate here for an agricultural group which we provide other services. They have units in many cities. We also operated in the Mantiqueira Mountains, along with other agricultural aviation companies. The initiative with the private sector brought together local business people who supported aerial firefighting. We also operated in Magda for another agricultural aviation company. There was a fire in a forest reserve next to São José do Rio Preto, near its headquarters. The fire grew, and the people took too long to call us. This is something that needs to change; the activation time. People take too long to call the aircraft. When we got there, the fire was already out of control. The fire took on a substantial dimension and was coming close to houses. It came very close to a luxury condominium called Quinta do Golfe. We managed to contain the fire on the border of its wall, operating well within the city.” Toledo pointed out that he sees aerial firefighting’s advancement in Brazil with optimism as an excellent opportunity for agricultural aviation and environmental preservation. This work, according to him, is gaining visibility. More people are aware of their work, including discussions at the federal level for a national firefighting plan with the agricultural aviation industry’s inclusion. Aircraft have proved to be an excellent option for this job since the fire season is concomitant when there is not much demand for aerial spraying. Finally, he highlighted the need for more effective training in the country: ➤


Left: A fire in the Paraguayan countryside during the dry season. (Photo recorded by pilot Gustavo Borges.) Right top: First Brazilian Training Course for Agricultural Pilots in Fire Fighting in Fields and Forests, held in Olímpia (state of São Paulo) with theoretical classes and practical training. Right center: Serrana Aviação Agrícola assisted in a firefighting operation in Paraguay working with the local army. Right bottom: Zanoni’s gate in operation in the Amazon region. Aerial firefighting has stood out as the primary technological solution for fighting a fire across South America.

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Pachu Aviação Agrícola promoted the firefighting training of twelve agricultural

“What is also lacking today is training, especially for the ground team. People think calling an airplane will solve the problem alone; that does not happen. We need training for pilots and personnel who assist in the fight, for the coordination personnel, and for the ground fire brigade, who are also very important. Without training, we run the risk of poor effectiveness and create the impression that agricultural aircraft do not work to fight fires.”

pilots from the states of São Paulo, Paraná, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul and Pará, in addition to a

Luiz Henrique, who currently operates an Air Tractor AT-502 aircraft, was part of western Bahia’s firefighting effort. Luiz reported part of his experience and highlighted the importance of coordination with other teams:

pilot from Bolivia, at its base in Olimpia.

“It is an honor to know that agricultural aviation can help our country, especially during fire seasons. In 2015, we fought in the Chapada Diamantina National Park with ground firefighters, who did an incredible job on the ground. A real war operation was set up, with Air Force planes, army aid, and helicopters. Another incredible experience was in Minas Gerais’s state in 2019 amid the high hills of the region. The operation was more complex because the ground crew could not reach the fires and aircraft had to operate alone, but it was still very efficient.”

Firefighting Technology Development This year was hectic for Zanoni Equipamentos in the area of developing and providing aerial firefighting equipment. The company equipped AF 18 | aerialfiremag.com

more than 30 aircraft in 2020, surpassing the mark of one hundred fire gates installed throughout South America. In addition to expanding the production capacity to meet this new demand from the Brazilian fleet, Zanoni started new projects in this equipment line. New models of gates have been manufactured and are being tested, as well as new technologies are being developed to improve the Zanoni gates that are already in operation. Sérgio Zanoni, CEO and founder of the company highlights the importance of research and development in the area: “We are delighted to be contributing to the evolution of firefighting in Brazil. We developed the technology in the country a few years ago, and we are constantly improving it to meet the specific needs of the Brazilian and South American fleet. Our philosophy has always been to understand what pilots need and to serve them. It was so with the manual gate, and it has also been so with the hydraulic gate. Our equipment is ideal for firefighting in fields since, with its installation, it is not necessary to make any changes to the aircraft’s spray system. In this way, the same aircraft carrying out the spray/dispersion work over crops can help in fighting fires. In Brazil, a fleet exclusively dedicated to fighting fires is still minimal. In addition, the Zanoni fire gate is ideal for using retardants. The pilot can control the amount of liquid dropped over the target accurately. Both the hydraulic system and the controlled opening arose because of orders from


our customers and our other innovations that are currently under development and testing. Hence, this is the importance of always maintaining direct contact between manufacturers and pilots”.

Legislative bill includes agricultural aviation in Brazilian firefighting. Left: Training was attended by Edson Mitsuya (Fundação Astropontes), Mônica Maria Sarmento e Souza (Ministry of Agriculture) and Marcelo “China” Amaral (SINDAG / Pachu Aviação Agrícola). Right: Firefighting operation in the Pantanal, the hardest hit by the drought during 2020. (Photo sent by pilot Gustavo Borges).

September, Senator Carlos Fávaro presented Bill #4.629/2020 to include agricultural aviation in the governmental guidelines and policies for fighting forest fires. The proposal, which amends the Brazilian Forest Code and the legislation that regulates the use of agricultural aircraft in the country, intends to include agricultural aviation in the contingency plans for combating forest fires and also in the National Policy for the Management, Fire Control, Prevention and Fight Against Forest Fires. The project determines that the public agencies’ contingency plans associated with the National Environment System (Sisnama) will contain guidelines for the use of agricultural aircraft and may represent an advance in professionalism and direct more resources to aerial firefighting. Highlights of the bill: “The drought and fire season coincides with the agricultural off-season in most of the national territory, a period in which our agricultural aviation fleet, which is the second-largest in the world (with 2,300 aircraft) is idle. These aircraft used in the crop season for pesticide spraying and the dispersion of fertilizers are extremely effective in combating forest fires. They enable the dumping of water and fire retardants with agility,

precision, and safety at a low cost compared to the government’s acquisition of aircraft. With the use of ag-aviation, instead of buying aircraft, hiring pilots, and bearing the entire cost of facilities, maintenance, training, and personnel (the structure that would be idle for eight months), the government would outsource shifts and hours flown only in the months of drought and fires. This would be implemented as part of a system, which would work with teams of brigade members on the ground and also with a structure for rapid detection of fire outbreaks, capable of generating a huge leap in quality and effectiveness in the actions to fight fires in Brazil.” The bill was approved by the Senate and is now under consideration by the House of Representatives. Amid so many discussions about the relationship between Brazilian agribusiness and the environment that we had during the year 2020, agricultural aviation in fighting fires is no longer only an opportunity but has become a reality in Brazil. There is still a long way to go that requires a lot of work, investments, training, and greater coordination. In any case, the agricultural aviation industry is already posing itself as a strategic tool for preserving Brazil’s natural heritage, helping the country have one of the most sustainable agricultural productions in the world.

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An RJ85 drops a load of fire retardant during recent fire activity. Photo by Melissa Kimsey

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RJ85 The

MAKES THE TRIP DOWNUNDER Conair’s team makes the trip south in the post COVID-19 world with new restrictions and challenges For the past three years, the Conair RJ85 has traveled from its home hangar at Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, to New South Wales, Australia, to support government agency partners and local firefighters in protecting communities and natural resources from wildfires during their summer season. This season, the RJ85 and crew were strategically based in Dubbo, approximately 300 km (186 Miles) Northwest of Sydney. Conair partners with Australian aerial firefighting and aviation specialist Field Air Group, who provides a support staff of 50 to assist during the aircraft’s operational season.. The aircraft, affectionately named “Hunter” by Australians, is an AVRO RJ85 that has been custom modified by Conair with a proprietary retardant delivery system (RDS) to become an air tanker purpose-engineered for aerial firefighting. The aircraft’s tank, identified on Hunter by its sizable belly, can deliver 11,355 liters (3000 gallons) of water, retardant, or gel on a fire. The four-engine jet aircraft has excellent low-speed and

high-speed performance capabilities, making it ideal for almost any terrain, whether in an Initial Attack capacity or supporting sustained suppression missions.

Hunter Works North and South Hemispheres From April to August, “Hunter” works firefighting missions on forest fires in western Canada. When contracts complete each year, the aircraft undergoes a comprehensive maintenance program. In late September, the RJ85 aerial firefighter heads south, taking off to battle bushfires in the southern hemisphere until February. After that, it’s back to Abbotsford’s home base for some needed time off, and another full servicing before it heads back into operation in Canada. ➤ aerialfiremag.com | AF 21


The Brains Behind the Brawn Top: Crews needed to fit a long range internal fuel tank for the trip to Australia. Here crews are seen testing the equipment prior to their long ferry flight.

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The aircraft’s specialized air tanker pilots have thousands of hours of commercial flight and aerial firefighting experience. They know this multimillion dollar machine intimately, having flown critical and challenging missions at its controls for years. During each maintenance break, its pilots undergo intensive training from Conair’s Training + Tactics Centre, including ground, flight, and line instruction from experts with decades of aerial firefighting experience. Safety is paramount in this unique industry. In addition to aircraft systems instruction and RJ85 simulator training in fire suppression tactics, pilots learn about the mechanics of fighting fires, from strategy to fire behavior, fire weather, and human factors such as fatigue.

Documenting Hunter’s flight from Canada to Australia in 2020 is Ray Horton, Captain of tanker 166 “Hunter.” Ray has been with Conair for nearly 38 years. Partnering in the cockpit with Ray is Anthony Ussher as First Officer and on the ground is Ed Da Silva and Steve Daechsel, expert Maintenance Engineers. The RJ85 team knows the aircraft inside and out. They are tight, supporting each other during missions and while on the ground, forming a small family bubble while away from home for months at a time positioned remotely at bases.

Before Take-Off Preparations for Hunter’s ferry flight to Australia annually is an exercise in coordination and communication between all Conair departments


Below: Crews faced many obstacles during their ferry flight that included lockdowns and even hospital van transportation to

to ensure every facet of the trip and subsequent 4-month firefighting role locked down for overseas operations. This includes the Planning group’s input to forecast current and future maintenance schedules and from the Purchasing and Materials departments to ensure the spare parts inventory that might be needed. Parts required are either shipped or carried on board the aircraft. With COVID-19 this year, the team has been proactively planning, anticipating potential supply delays and longer shipping times.

and from airports in Honiara.

Months before departure to Australia, Conair’s maintenance team identifies qualified aerial firefighting maintenance engineers for the Australian deployment. These specialized individuals are experts in the RJ85 as an aircraft and in the specifications of the modified RJ85 as an air tanker. As soon as Hunter returns from its Canadian commitments, tanker 166 is towed into the hangar. The crews conduct up to 6 weeks of heavy maintenance tasks, forecasted to ensure

no significant maintenance is required during fire contract operations. The Avionics Department removes all Canadian customer radios and installs an FM radio specific to Australian specifications and long-range communication HF radio for transiting the Pacific Ocean. Conair painters remove and replace all tail numbers and apply nose and cowling decals appropriate to Australian requirements. The final touches - the expert cleaners ensure the aircraft is clean and polished.

Fueling Up for the Journey Flying from Canada to Australia is a stretch for the RJ85 at over 20 hours of flight time. To get the aircraft over the Pacific, a ferry fuel system is installed in its body, consisting of five 500 US gallon fuel bags in five dedicated leakproof containers. This ferry system, assembled in the aircraft’s cabin, requires special flight permits from each country Hunter flies through en route to Australia. ➤

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Rick MacNevin and his Conair team obtain all the documentation and ensure the weights of the installed components associated with the ferry trip, both temporary and permanent, are tracked and accounted for. Once everything is installed, Hunter is rolled out for extensive ground runs and fuel system tests, capped off by a postmaintenance and ferry fuel test flight to ensure all systems are in perfect working order.

Lengthy Logistics COVID-19 added to the logistical challenges at least two-fold this year. Routing proved especially challenging due to ongoing changing restrictions from each country as the pandemic evolved. Together with our Australian partner, Field Air, Flight Operations managed the logistics of the crew schedules for the entire stay in Australia, working through ferry flight planning details and coordinating routes along with fuel and overnight technical stops. Once routing was approved, overnight accommodations had to be sourced from limited options, and health assessments were performed, including COVID-19 testing. Conair’s Human Resources team also coordinated with Field Air to ensure all appropriate Australian documents were obtained and that the crew was fully covered for health and welfare for the length of their deployment. When departure day from Canada came, the two pilots and two maintenance engineers boarded Hunter knowing it was fully fueled, well maintained, qualified, prepped, and ready for the journey ahead.

The Trip Across the Pacific The extensive planning and proactive response from all Conair’s teams translated into a seamless trip south! The additional COVID-19 paperwork prepared to accompany Hunter was there to support if needed. Still, the timely pre-departure COVID-19 test proved to be an essential aspect of the trip, with each touch down requiring proof of a recent negative result from all those on board. The skies were empty save for the odd cargo flight. The overnight stops en route between Canada and Australia proved interesting at best in the new COVID-19 world. After refueling AF 24 | aerialfiremag.com

in Oakland, Hunter made an overnight stop in Honolulu. The city was entirely closed except for the odd ABC store. Masks were mandatory with restrictions in place from being on the street unless exercising.

Below The team showing one of the many closed down hotels in Honolulu. Right:The team arrived

In Honiara, the crew was transferred to and from the hotel in a hospital van, complete with a flashing light escort, and was on full lockdown in rooms overnight. It is a different world out there traveling during a pandemic, but despite all the restrictions en route, the Conair crew was treated with the utmost respect for the entire journey.

in Honiara to the sight of a hospital van to transport them to hotel accomodations. Bottom Right: The RJ85 arrives to start work, arriving in Sydney

G’day Australia

Australia to begin

On arrival in Australia, the Brisbane Approach Controller thanked the crew for “coming out today.” The airport itself was completely empty. No other travelers were seen in the terminal as the team was processed through airport COVID

contract work with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.


protocol and immigration teams. The police and health authorities that greeted the group and worked with them through the process were all keen to make the experience as painless as possible under the circumstances. The Conair team was safely tucked away in their hotel on arrival in Australia for a two week quarantine period. The group was kept entertained by Field Air gifts, including groceries, books, and jars of vegemite to enjoy while watching hours of Netflix. On days 2 and 7, they were given COVID tests and confirmed ‘clean.’ The crew has settled into their routines at Dubbo base, regularly performing maintenance and systems checks in preparation for mission call outs. Just like firefighters at a fire station, health and wellness is always front of mind for the Conair group, from COVID protocol through pilot preparedness, doing everything they can to stay in top shape to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice, 24/7. In the future, as the landscape of aerial firefighting changes, Hunter may be able to stay Down Under year-round, enabling a local crew of pilots and dedicated mechanics to be fully trained over time and mindfully deployed to ensure safely executed missions. aerialfiremag.com | AF 25


Blue Sky Network’s Scottsdale, Arizona Facility Receives the AS9100 Certification Blue Sky Network provides Satellite

On December 10th, 2020, Blue Sky Network announced that its Scottsdale, Arizona facility received the AS9100 certification for its Aerospace Quality Management System, to include the design and manufacture of asset tracking, communications equipment and software.

Communications Devices that are used around the world for aircraft tracking of aerial firefighting fleets.

AS9100 is an internationally recognized series of standards for quality management systems within the aviation, defense, and space industries. The AS9100 standards take the requirements of ISO 9001 and supplement them with additional quality system requirements specific to aerospace operations. “The AS9100 certification puts Blue Sky Network in a very select group of manufacturers” said Gregoire Demory, Blue Sky Network President.

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“It also reaffirms our dedication to delivering industry-leading quality and customer service.” “We are extremely proud to have Blue Sky Network AS9100 certified,” stated Tucker Morrison, Blue Sky Network CEO. “After acquiring Applied Satellite Engineering in 2018, the certification of both our San Diego and Scottsdale locations secures our unwavering commitment to our customers as well as our continued drive to develop the most reliable and quality satellite connectivity solutions in the market.”


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ASU President Jim Winkel Retires, New President and COO Named ASU President Jim Winkel retiried at the end of 2020. Winkel served as the President of ASU since September of 2013.

Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Inc. (ASU) announced in October that ASU President Jim Winkel will retire at the end of 2020. Winkel has served as the President of ASU since September of 2013 and his remarkable career in the night vision industry spanned nearly four decades. “Some of the greatest memories I have during my time at ASU is the outstanding friends and colleagues whom I’ve been privileged to work and form a relationship with,” said Winkel. “My ASU family is replete with wonderful innovators, always focused on developing solutions for those whom we serve. I’ll treasure the great community we have built as well – from the ASU soccer team to our annual retreat, and the many conversations we’ve had because of the trust and confidence we’ve built with one another.” ASU founder Mike Atwood hired Winkel as President. Atwood previously held the role for almost two decades.

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“Jim had a vast knowledge of the night vision world and his aviation background was a plus when we hired him,” said Atwood. He has a tremendous amount of international experience and worldwide contacts gained from his previous employment. I knew him from past working relationships and knew he was an honorable and honest person. Through his leadership in the last seven years, ASU has grown, expanded, and entered many new markets. Jim has been a stable force during the many challenges that ASU has faced over the years. We are thankful for his time at ASU and wish him the very best.” Winkel first began his distinguished career in NVGs in 1978 as a Soldier for the United States Army. In 1982 he began flying with PVS-5 goggles. Before retiring from the Army in 1998, Winkel was flying all mission profiles – formation, sling loads, air assault – at night using NVGs and with NVIS compatible aircraft lighting. It was after he retired from the Army when he formed Moon Shadow


Training. He trained law enforcement pilots all over the United States. In 1999, he joined Litton Industries, now L3Harris, full-time. With Litton, Winkel was on the development team of the M949 aviation NVG. He also served on the RTCA committee, as the co-Chair along (with Lorry Faber of the FAA). Around a hundred industry and military saints from North America, Australia, and Europe labored together for nearly two years to develop the standards for NVG, NVIS lighting, and NVG operations that have been adopted for use by FAA and civil aviation authorities around the world. Mike Atwood was among those on the RTCA committee. Winkel’s influence on the world of NVGs has touched military, corporate, and civilian operations worldwide. Winkel says he has had many great mentors in the last 40 years that contributed to his career and growth. “I believe that it took exceptional courage for the Atwood’s to bring an ‘outsider’ into the company – in particular someone with an extensive, corporate aerospace/defense background,” said Winkel. “I had known and respected Mike since the late 1990’s when he and I competed with one another in the NVG flight training market. In early 2000, I got to know him very well when we worked together for nearly two years on the RTCA committee – whose efforts facilitate today the many

cottage NVIS industries that support global aviation NVG flight. I first met Chris as she and Mike were considering becoming a distributor for a former company I worked with. Her talents are amazing, as is her perseverance and drive. Turning the reins over, after having ‘poured every ounce of energy’ (as Bob Seger crooned) for 18 years into ‘their baby’, is not an easy thing for any business owner to do. I am grateful Chris and Mike for your mentorship, trust, and friendship. I remember fondly the many evenings we spent ‘cussin’ and discussin’ (as Mike Atwood says) after a wonderful meal at the Atwood home. Thank you both for inviting me to become a part of the ASU family and legacy. May God’s provision continue to bless you.” Winkel, a father of nine kids, four in-laws, and ten grandkids, says he is looking forward to retirement. By October 15th, 2020, the company announced that Joe Estrera, PhD., would take over as the new president of ASU and Hannah Gordon will be promoted as the new chief operating officer upon the retirement of ASU President Jim Winkle at the end of the year. Estrera previously served as the vice president and chief technology officer. Gordon previously served as vice president of administration and sales. In partnership, Estrera will lead strategy and outward operations while Gordon will direct internal operations. ➤

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“You have one of the brightest night vision minds in Dr. Joe Estrera, as captain of the ASU ship,” said ASU President Jim Winkel. “In Hannah Gordon, you have a sharp businesswoman, who knows all the inner workings of ASU like no other because she has held numerous roles at ASU. She will propel the company toward continual improvement. The new leadership team will benefit our customers.” Gordon was the first employee hired at ASU by founder Mike Atwood. Estrera was brought in as part of Winkel’s leadership team to develop new products.

The new leadership team will benefit our customers.

“Because Hannah has done just about every job within ASU, she has the experience and expertise to assist and supervise every department,” said Atwood. “She has been a driving force in modernizing our financial and computer systems. With our move towards manufacturing the new lightweight aviation goggle, and after winning research and development contracts for advanced military night vision systems, Joe is the prime person for overseeing these projects. Joe has managed numerous projects for various night vision manufacturers before joining ASU. The experience he gained from these projects will add to the success of the ASU projects.” Estrera will lead new product development, new business development, strategic partnerships, and direct international engagement. Estrera has received numerous awards and industry recognition. He was awarded the U.S. Army CECOM Defense Acquisition Executive Certificate of Achievement and received corporate awards from Litton, Northrop Grumman and L-3 Communications. Dr. Estrera has authored technical papers, holds multiple patents, is frequently published in technical and industry journals, and speaks often at symposiums and seminars. He is currently a member of the American Physical Society, Society of PhotoOptical Instrumentation Engineers, and American Vacuum Society. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in physics from The University of Texas at Dallas, and his B.S. in physics from the University of Notre Dame. “ASU’s mission has always been focused on saving lives through the use of night vision goggles,” said

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Estrera. “ASU founder’s mission for ASU will be the litmus test for everything we do at ASU. Whether we are developing new products, leveraging our core competencies, or helping operators start night vision programs, it has to align with our vision. I am looking forward to continuing to work with the incredible ASU team, all our customers, suppliers, and affiliates to bring a bigger and brighter future to ASU. Whether it is the new advanced night vision systems we are developing in conjunction with the US Department of Defense, or the E3 goggles for civil operations, everything must adhere to the mantra that night vision solutions save lives.”

Estrera will lead new product development, new business development, strategic partnerships, and direct international engagement. Gordon’s 21-year career at ASU has included sales, marketing, human resources, supply chain, information technology, finance and customer service. For the first ten years of her career, she focused on external operations. For the second 10 years, she has focused on internal processes. In the last two years, she has championed the launch of a new customer service department, enterprise resource planning system, and improved the customer experience. She earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Boise State University. “ASU has a strong reputation for its family atmosphere,” said Gordon.” As the chief operating officer, I will continue to cultivate that by caring for our team. We have a lot of high-capacity leaders and dedicated employees with very demanding jobs. Part of my new endeavor will be to care for the people at ASU who work so tirelessly to care for our customers. ASU has grown from a small company to a company of more than 50 employees. We want to maintain the dynamic culture at ASU and continue to serve our customers better.”


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Conair’s AT-802 FTD Certified to Level 5 Conair’s simulator will run both the 802 and 802F Fireboss in the simulator to cover a wide variety of aircraft.

Conair Group Inc. announced November 9th, 2020 that the certification process for the AT-802 Level 5 Flight Training Device (FTD) has been completed and approved by Transport Canada. Conair’s simulator is convertible, designed to mimic the performance of both the amphibious Fire Boss and wheeled Air Tractor AT-802, providing pilots with a virtual training platform that offers true-to-life flight scenarios, including firefighting missions. Equipped with real avionics, a KAWAK throttle quadrant and Retardant Delivery System, the simulator has displays identical to the cockpit of the actual aircraft. Flight control feedback and all instrumentation react to changing environments, with wind speed, visibility, temperature, clouds

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and turbulence being controlled on the master Instructor Operating Station. The training device allows the pilot to practice tactics within a variety of situations, while managing the added pressure of simulated radio communications from multiple aircraft on the same mission. The FTD also features a 180-degree high-definition visual display, vibration system and programable firefighting scenarios, enabling pilots to practice a range of fire suppression techniques within immersive and dynamic circumstances. A key advantage of the simulator includes the pilot’s ability to practice drops and scoops in complex, and often unpredictable, conditions. In addition, pilots have the opportunity to exercise emergency


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procedures within a safe setting that significantly reduces the risk to both the pilot and the aircraft The AT-802 FTD is cost effective comparative to inflight sessions and the location of the simulator in Conair’s Training + Tactics Centre in Abbotsford, British Columbia enables pilots in North America to stay closer to home for training. The AT-802 FTD is available to qualifying Air Tractor operators, ensuring pilots have access to training tools that produce safer missions in real world operations.

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Kestrel/Erickson Air Crane Starts Australian Season Fighting Fire at Mt. Cottrell, Victoria Mangalore, Victoria based Kestrel Aviation

A grassfire in the outer suburbs of Melbourne in Victoria was the first outing for Erickson Air-Crane “Marty” which is one of several Air Crane’s that forms part of a joint venture between Erickson and Kestrel aviation to fight Australian bushfires.

and Oregon based Erickson have provided up to six Air Cranes for several years around Australia to fight fires.

The brush fire threatened communities of Mount Cottrell and Truganina but was quickly brought under control with the response from the AirCrane and an S-61 from Coulson Aviation that was sent to the scene. The fire burned nearly 250 acres before being brought under control with the rapid response of over 40 ground units and several helicopters. The damage from the fire was contained to several farm outbuildings and eight cars that were stored on one property in the area.

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“Some damage has been caused to four outbuildings, generally small sheds, and about eight cars that were in a storage sort of scenario in one of the paddocks,” he said. Earlier, state duty officer Glen Jennings said the fire had created a lot of smoke which was visible in Melbourne’s CBD. Residents were advised to leave when an emergency warning was issued at the height of the crisis but the warning was later downgraded to advice level. Kestrel and Erickson have been in a partnership that sees as many as six air cranes operate around Australia every year providing much needed aerial firefighting capacity for multiple states around Australia.


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Precision Aviation Group, Inc. (PAG) Acquires EFIX Aviation Support (EFIX)

The addition of EFIX will add a significant footprint for PAG in Brazil.

Precision Aviation Group, Inc. (PAG), a leading provider of products and value-added services to the Worldwide Aerospace and Defense industry, announced November 18th, 2020, the acquisition of São José dos Campos, Brazil based EFIX Aviation Support (EFIX). EFIX specializes in Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services for the South American Aerospace and Defense market, with a diverse capabilities list that includes - Landing Gear, Hydraulic/Pneumatic, Electrical Accessories, Starter Generators, Batteries, and Avionics. EFIX’ Repair Station holds both ANAC and EASA certifications. David Mast, President & CEO of PAG stated, “We are excited about the acquisition of EFIX and look forward to working with the EFIX Team as we continue to expand our MRO and Supply Chain Services in Latin America. The addition of EFIX gives PAG its 11th Repair Station Globally and further diversifies PAG’s MRO capabilities by expanding our services into Landing Gear, Hydraulic and Pneumatic component services.

AF 36 | aerialfiremag.com

Additionally, EFIX expands PAG’s footprint in Brazil -where we’ve had a presence since 2015 enabling our customers to benefit from in-country MRO support and expanded local inventory levels, quicker turnaround times, and expanded AOG support.” Ricardo Malato, President of EFIX, said, “David Mast and the PAG team have built a reputation for industry-leading customer service and capabilities. The acquisition by PAG enables EFIX to provide enhanced capabilities for our customers specifically in Avionics, LCD Display Repairs, Accessories, Instruments, Fuel Components, and Wheels/ Brakes. These capabilities are supported by our immediate access to PAG’s inventory valued at more than $45 million (USD), including products from over 80 OEM’s. PAG is well positioned and services very diverse end markets and we look forward to building on its strong foundation by helping it grow and meet evolving customer needs.”


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Skyline Aviation Prepares to Bring First Australian Seahawk into Firefighting Operations Skyline Aviation was quick to purchase the entire fleet of retiring

The word bushfire is still well and truly fresh in most Australians’ minds following the disastrous 2019/20 fire season. A huge focus is on combating them by both state and federal governments, with local fire agencies and Australia’s aerial operators now more prominently featured.

Sea Hawks from the Royal Australian Navy and hopes to bring them into the aerial firefighting role by 2021.

A company established back in 1995 at Newcastle Airport in New South Wales, Australia; today finds itself moving into larger aircraft for the vital aerial firefighting role, joining the list of experienced operators already in Australia. Skyline Aviation Group, based at Lake Macquarie Airport, operates helicopters in diverse roles, including scenic flights, helicopter flight training, external load and firefighting, and various other

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missions. For these sorts of tasks, a diverse fleet is operated by the company, including the Robinson R22 and R44 Helicopter. Skyline’s other types include several Bell Helicopters, including the 206 Jetranger and 206 Longranger, to the larger and more powerful Bell 427 twin-engine helicopter. Different types operated include the Airbus Helicopters BO105 and AS350. The company moved into the national spotlight after announcing on 8 November 2018 the acquisition of eleven former Royal Australian Navy, S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters, including a vast parts inventory.


Skyline Aviation again came into the spotlight at the 2019 Avalon Airshow when one of the retired Seahawks, N24-016, was displayed with a mock-up firefighting tank from Helitak slung underneath. The FT4500 collapsible tank was designed specifically for the Sikorsky UH-60 and S-70 helicopters. With the preliminary report from the recent Australian Royal Commission into the 2019-20 fire season being released, it was strongly recommended that a sovereign fleet of aerial assets be made available instead of relying heavily on internationally sourced aircraft. Skyline has moved to help provide this requirement to the Australian Government. With nine or more medium to heavily lift Type 1 aircraft annually contracted through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC), there is currently only a single Type 1 aircraft operated in Australia owned by an Australian company.

Skyline will be able to field between two and six of the Seahawks for fire season 2020-21, with the CASA type certification imminent. Large fires burning around the world, such as in California and Greece, coupled with the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to cause problems in the short term. These problems include the availability of aircraft (with contracts overlapping those in the Northern hemisphere). More importantly, crews that rotate from their home countries roughly every four weeks are cause for concern. Add the two weeks required quarantine aspect, and crews won’t be able to fly at the expense of the company they fly for, which is, in turn, is paid for by the Australian Tax Payer. Skyline will be able to field between two and six of the Seahawks for fire season 2020-21, with the CASA type certification imminent. The type will also provide a nighttime flight capacity, with the company expecting to be approved by the end of 2020. The company has committed to operating the Seahawk with a large investment at its Lake Macquarie operating base. Skyline estimates that with their turn-key solution based on two aircraft on a 120-day contract, the company could save ➤

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the Australian Taxpayer millions of dollars against the leased overseas aircraft. The first of the S-70Bs, VH-XHJ, joined the Australian register in October 2019, while the former N24-002 is the first of the Seahawks modified for its new role in aerial fire suppression. In addition to a comprehensive component, drivetrain, and systems overhaul, an extensive weight shedding exercise to remove the now redundant military systems, the fitting of civilian radio and transponder units, and modifications for the tank installation is just a small portion of converting the airframe into its new role. The S-70B final fit out will include a Helitak FT4500 collapsible fire tank with a 4500-liter (1188 gallon) capacity. This tank is designed in Australia and sold through Helitak, based in Noosa, Queensland. The company recently achieved international success by selling the same tank to High-Performance Helicopters in Redlands, California, who have installed the FT4500 on their UH-60 Blackhawk fleet. The tank operates via the Helitak Programmable Logic Controller. The operator can control drop patterns, water collection and discharge telemetry, and tank maintenance reporting via a cockpit touchscreen. The uniquely designed tank is the brainchild of founder Jason Schellaars and can be installed or removed from underneath the Blackhawk/Seahawk in under twenty-five minutes. The tank attaches via mounting pins and electrical plugs.

History The “Bravo” Seahawks first entered service in Australia in 1989 with the Royal Australian Navy. Sixteen aircraft formed the initial order and would eventually be operated by 816 Squadron until replaced by the “Romeo” variant from 2013 onwards. The Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Technologies Corporation in Florida manufactured the first batch of eight aircraft. N24-001 was the first S-70B-2 aircraft built, flying for the first time in December 1987. Delivery to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) took place in Stratford, Connecticut, in September 1989. Aerospace AF 40 | aerialfiremag.com

Technologies Australia (ASTA) at Avalon in Victoria assembled the second batch of eight airframes. The final Seahawk arrived in 1992. The Australian Seahawk had specific avionics requested by the Navy, plus a rescue hoist located on the starboard side. The avionics installed included a CAE Electronics AN/AQS-504 internally- mounted MAD system and AN/SSQ-81 Barra sonobuoys with sonar processing equipment, supported by a MEL Super Searcher X-band radar housed in a small radome.

The Australian Seahawk had specific avionics requested by the Navy, plus a rescue hoist located on the starboard side. The S-70B-2s was powered by a pair of T700-GE401C turbines and could carry and fire the Penguin or Sea Skua light anti-shipping missiles. Two of the Seahawks, N24-005, and N24-008 saw action in the 1991 Gulf War and were fitted with AN/AAQ-16 FLIR turret and AN/AAR-47 missile warning system. With age came the need to source a replacement, and after the Navy’s disastrous A$ 1.1 billion, SH2G “Super Seasprite” debacle, a tried and proven platform was sought. The Australian Government announced the approval of 24 MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopters at the cost of over $3 billion on 16 June 2011. The first of the new Romeo’s N48-001 was accepted into service by No 725 Squadron at Jacksonville in Florida on 24 January 2014. The S-70B-2 Bravo Seahawk was formally retired from active service in the Royal Australian Navy on 1 December 2017 at HMAS Albatross. The Seahawk had been in the RAN inventory for 29 years, without a single loss. A truly remarkable feat for a military helicopter, and one who regularly saw operational service at sea.


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Perimeter Solutions Launches NextGeneration, Flagship Long-Term Fire Retardant

AF 42 | aerialfiremag.com


Perimeter Solutions introduced PHOSCHEK® LCE20-Fx on November 18th, 2020, the next-generation of its industryleading flagship PHOS-CHEK® Fire Retardant line. PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx combines the ease of mixing and handling a liquid with the aerial drop advantages of a gum-thickened retardant. The elastic nature of the thickener in PHOSCHEK LCE20-Fx reduces drift, dispersion and evaporation, while increasing coverage, wrap around, and canopy and ladder fuel penetration, making it more effective in targeting ground vegetation. An innovative, 100 percent phosphate product, PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx fire retardant utilizes an environmentally friendly formula to offer superior performance, product safety, and enhanced stability, resulting in easier handling. PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx fire retardant is qualified by the USDA Forest Service under the recently updated specification for Long Term Retardant, Wildland Firefighting: 5100-304d (published January 7, 2020), for use in fixed-wing and singleengine air tankers, helicopter buckets, and ground engines. After an operational field evaluation conducted earlier this year, the product is currently included on the USDA Forest Service Qualified Product List (QPL) for use on Federal and State land. This next-generation fire retardant is the result of the company’s continuing commitment to R&D for the fire safety market in developing solutions that save lives, according to Edward Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of Perimeter Solutions. “PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx is another big step toward delivering superior firefighting performance with the low environmental footprint our Agency customers are asking us for. It is the culmination of two years of work by the Perimeter Solutions R&D team in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. This 100 percent-phosphate formulation is an improvement in virtually every aspect of environmental and operational performance over previous technologies,” Goldberg said. “As we continue to see the growing impact of wildfires on communities in the United States and around the world, we’re gratified that we can help firefighters by providing them with technologies that help them do their jobs more effectively and with greater safety.”

An improved tool to fight wildland fires PHOS-CHEK fire retardants are used for wildland fire control in forest, brush or grassland. Perimeter Solutions’ PHOS-CHEK LC95 product has been the global standard fire retardant for more than a decade. Once applied, PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx reacts with and alters the thermal decomposition mechanism of wildland fuels, rendering them nonflammable, depriving the fire of fuel while reducing fire intensity and the rate of flame spread. PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx fire retardant is also a useful tool for prescribed burns and fire breaks. When applied at lower concentrations, fire intensity can be dramatically reduced, while only slow and controlled burning remains supported. Produced as a concentrate, PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx is delivered to application sites as a low-viscosity liquid. During application, it is diluted and mixed with water in-line as it is transferred to delivery systems. PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx is an Ultra-High Visibility Fugitive (Fx)-colored concentrate that offers better ground visibility than any product on the market to date, which improves in-field effectiveness and also enhances the safety of pilots engaged in firefighting operations. The fugitive color maintains visibility during application, and slowly fades after exposure to sunlight. According to Shannon Horn, Business Director, North America Retardant and Services at Perimeter Solutions, PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx was developed in response to the company’s Agency customers’ requests. “Improved environmental performance is a topic that is particularly important to our customers. The new formula, compared to previous formulas, offers higher purity ingredients, lower fish toxicity, lower overall toxicity, enhanced product safety and lower costs for disposal. In addition, the new product has better stability, which translates into easier handling, and reduced concentrate separation,” said Horn. “We think PHOS-CHEK LCE20-Fx can be the standard for fire retardants for the next 20 years. We look forward to rolling it out to our customers as they look to save lives, homes, property and communities around the world,” he added.

aerialfiremag.com | AF 43


McDermott Aviation Drops Over One Million Liters on Fraser Island Fire McDermott Aviation operates the largest fleet in Australia of the Bell 214B for aerial firefighting that serve in all states of Australia during the fire season.

All Australian owned and operated McDermott Aviation Group has been providing assets to fight the long-running fire on Fraser Island in Queensland’s North over the last several weeks. Simon McDermott from McDermott aviation advised that one of their company Bell 214B water-bombing helicopters dropped over 1 MILLION liters (264,000 Gallons) in a 3 day period that consisted of 353 individual drops conducted over the last weekend on the blaze that is finally coming under control thanks to the efforts of aerial firefighting crews consisting of multiple helicopters and several LAT aircraft. McDermott Aviation operates 15 water-bombing Bell214B’s – the World’s largest single engine heavy-lift helicopter, in addition to a Bell214ST (super transporter) known as #Guardian1.

AF 44 | aerialfiremag.com

McDermott Aviation operates its fleet across Australia and around the world from its headquarters in Qld. The Bell214B delivers a load of up to 3000 liters (792 Gallons) of water, foam, or fire retardant, whichever is preferred by the agency directing operations on each fire. The company’s Bell214ST can drop up to 3500 liters (924 Gallons) per load. Both machines are also capable of loading both regular and saltwater in fire bucket configuration. McDermott Aviation’s 214’s are each certified in the Australian transport category and can be used to carry firefighters or evacuate residents if required, giving the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service one of its most versatile fire fighting tools.


aerialfiremag.com | AF 45


International Fleet Begins Return to Australia for Fire Season As international fleet arrangements take center satge during

As the fire season winds down in the Northern Hemisphere, the aerial firefighting fleets of companies that provide global resources to Australia have begun the migration south for the Australian bushfire season.

government discussions on aerial firefighting resources, aircraft from Coulson Aviation, Kestrel Aviation and Mc Dermott Aviation have all arrived to start work on fire

Throughout the last two weeks aircraft have begun to arrive back on Australian shores with the first being the arrival of the Kestrel/Erickson Aircranes in Victoria. The six air cranes have now been reassembled and have begun their transfers around the country to their bases for the next several months.

season 2020/2021 in Australia.

AF 46 | aerialfiremag.com

In addition to overseas rotary-wing aircraft, McDermott aviation saw the return of several Bell 214s that had spent the last several months on

contract fighting fires in Greece that will soon be returned to Australian service fighting the fires back home after their first successful deployment to Greece. In addition to the Skycrane’s arrival, Kestrel also welcomed the first of their branded UH-60s from Firehawk that will join the fight in the evergrowing cadre of UH-60s entering the fight in restricted category service in Australia. Coulson Aviation is also continuing to move assets back to Australia with the recent transfer of one of the company’s 737 firefighting aircraft that recently began its trip south to begin work in New South Wales.


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aerialfiremag.com | AF 47


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