Air News on Helicopters
Russian Helicopters Steps Up Its Fire-Fighting Efforts
Already having achieved note-worthy success with its Ka-32A11BC helicopter, which has been recognized worldwide as one of the most successful fire-fighting machines built to date, Russian Helicopters took advantage of the recent Aerial Fire-fighting Conference in Aix-en-Provence, France, to further its involvement in the Global Helicopter Fire-fighting Initiative (GHFI).
The company’s objective is to foster attention on the development of helicopter models for fighting fires that it is making.
The Aerial Fire-fighting conference attracted industry specialists and developers of firefighting equipment for aerial extinguishing from practically all corners of the world.
Its coaxial rotor system allows the Ka-32A11BC to perform precise man oeuvres in both cramped cityscape and mountainous terrain and provides the helicopter with a high level of stability when hovering or flying in unstable atmospheric conditions. This design also allows the helicopter to use unequipped land sites of limited dimensions.
A special demonstration of the capabilities of the Ka-32A11BCwas held during the conference using a helicopter belonging to the Spanish operator, INAER, which specializes in emergency aid, firefighting and disaster response.
The Firefighting version of the Ka-32A11BC is capable of extinguishing fires via a Bambi bucket or water cannon.
The Ka-32A11BC complies with AP-29 airworthiness requirements and was certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2009.
The helicopter is also certified in Canada, China, India, Brazil and a number of other countries .In December 2012 the helicopter received a certificate of airworthiness from Australia.
In 2013 the Ka-32A11BC was selected as the symbol of the Global Firefighting Initiative, which is aimed at improving the effectiveness of the use of specialized firefighting helicopters.
Euro copter Validates Its Optionally Piloted Helicopter Capabilities
Euro copter ability to integrate unmanned flight capabilities into its helicopter family has been validated by an optionally piloted vehicle (OVP) demonstration programme, which used an EC145 to fly routes that included deployment of an external sling load and a representative observation mission.
Conducted at the French Air Force Base in Istres, France, this programme was revealed recently with an unmanned demonstration, which followed similar flights performed earlier in April.
With this capability fully validated, Euro copter is now positioned to pursue OPV flight capabilities for its product line of light, medium and heavy-lift helicopters -enabling those rotor craft to be flown by pilots or in an unmanned mode.
“Euro copter innovation is once again expanding the mission capabilities of helicopters, and we are ready to apply the proven optionally piloted vehicle competence in meeting customers’ needs,” explained Euro copter chief technical officer, Jean-Brice Dumont.”This latest achievement results from our company’s expertise in flight control and autopilot systems, human-machine interface, system architecture and integration.”
The recent unmanned demonstration -along with the previous flights-used a four-dimensional flight plan that was uploaded to the helicopter, with its starting and completion points situated on the Istres Air Force Bases Runway 15/33.
After an automatic takeoff, the EC145 flew the circuit via multiple pre-programmed way points, during which the helicopter performed a mid-route hover to deploy a load from the external sling.
The EC145 continued on a return route segment representing a typical observation mission, followed by an automatic landing.
For delivery of the external load, the helicopter entered a planned hover enabling the ground station controller to provide flight control inputs in orienting the EC145 over the drop point. The ground controller then transmitted a command to release load once the helicopter and load were correctly positioned.
The OPV flight capability was developed in an internally -funded Euro copter programme, and was coordinated by a team at the company’s Dovauworth, Germany, facility. Initial tests with a monitoring pilot aboard the EC145 were flown from Donauworth and then at Istres.
The EC145 demonstrator is a Euro copter test bed helicopter with an enhanced dual-duplex four-axis automatic flight control system (AFCS) and the latest navigation systems. In addition, the helicopter is fitted with the “plug -in” OPV avionics rack in its cabin behind the pilot seats, which contains the data link subsystems.
Visibility during the EC145s unmanned flights was provided to the ground station via on board cameras. They were complemented by an external glimbaled camera on the helicopter for infrared and daylight mission imaging.