Limiting the ravages of fire

Fire fighting is undoubtedly one of the helicopter’s most important contributions to the protection of the environment, and Eurocopter’s helicopters meet the requirements of this type of mission perfectly.

© Eurocopter/R. Michelin
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The ideal partner for the fixed-wing water bombers, the helicopter is the only means of access to certain places when the relief or aerology prevents the planes from performing accurate water bombing. Helicopters are deployed for different fire fighting missions depending on their size. The smallest Eurocopter helicopters, especially those from the Ecureuil family, join the initial attack on incipient fires and take over from the planes as the fire dies down. T
he planes are then able to continue the fight against more serious fires elsewhere. Their immediate deployment, their capability to take off and land in very confined spaces, their hover capability and their wide speed range very often mean that helicopters are the first to reach the scene of a fire.
These helicopters can be equipped with a Bambi Bucket®, which is secured to the end of a sling and suspended several metres below the aircraft, or they can be equipped with a belly tank, which is attached beneath the helicopter and has a capacity of more than 1,000 litres.

A ground-breaking system on the EC225
To retain the helicopter’s full multi-purpose capability, Eurocopter has developed a mission system that can be installed on and removed from the EC225 in less than 15 minutes. This system has a bladder tank that can carry up to 4,000 litres of water, and which is fitted to the cabin floor and secured by straps. The water is then dropped through the manhole in the centre section of the fuselage, directly beneath the main gearbox (MGB).
Furthermore, the installation of this system requires no structural modifications to the helicopter. This system was tested in operation in Corsica during the summer of 2007. In this trial, which lasted several weeks, the EC725 of the French Air Force was transformed into a water bomber and proved just how effective it is. The major advantage of this system is that it also retains the helicopter’s full multi-purpose capability for the related assignments, such as rescue missions and transporting supplies. The certification of this new system and the first delivery to a Korean operator are scheduled for the end of this year.



_AUTHOR: MONIQUE COLONGES