Erickson Air-Crane Utilizes Satellite Tracking Tools for Aerial Firefighting
Erickson Air-Crane Helicopters has quickly become a leading, and rapidly growing, global provider of aerial services to a diverse mix of end markets, including firefighting. The company also recently acquired Evergreen Helicopters, Inc., a diversified global provider of cargo and personnel air transport services to government and commercial customers.
The company has equipped its heavy-lift, high-tech S-64 air crane helicopters with Blue Sky Networks’ AFF-compliant D1000A Satellite Communication System Series with RS232 sensor interface. Erickson’s S-64 air crane helicopters leverage the benefits of an advanced communication solution that provides satellite tracking, allowing Erickson’s aircraft to respond efficiently to emergency fire situations while maintaining constant contact with command centers. With the integration of the D1000, Erickson’s aircraft for firefighting now has the capability to monitor information such as the amount of water and fire retardant dropped by the 2,650-gallon Helitankers in near real-time, critical information to improving a pilot’s situational awareness and drop pattern efficiency when it matters most.
“Blue Sky Network’s satellite tracking solution enables crucial communication with our pilots and aircraft in remote areas. Communication is constant and uninterrupted, an essential feature during firefighting operations,” said Brian Carlson, Erickson’s Marketing Communications Manager. “We selected Blue Sky Network because they provide superior reliability and coverage for our fleets and enable us to differentiate our operations during critical missions such as aerial firefighting.”
With Blue Sky Network, Erickson air crane transport tracking is accomplished by harnessing the Iridium satellite communication network via a D1000 unit installed on the aircraft, which sends data to the interactive new SkyRouter web portal. The web portal provides detailed mapping, two-way messaging, alerts, reports, and seamless integration capabilities with Google Earth, allowing Erickson to track and efficiently manage their aerial firefighting operations anywhere in world – from Australia to Malaysia to South America.
Blue Sky Network’s D1000 Series provides a number of benefits to Erickson’s firefighting helicopters, including data collection on water/fire retardant delivery for more efficient planning, and two-way remote communication, fleet coordination, event logging and improved situational awareness. Each feature contributes to improved safety and efficiency during firefighting assignments and helps to ensure that fires are extinguished efficiently.
“Pilots of firefighting aircraft have a challenging job, but being equipped with Blue Sky Network’s D1000 gives us peace of mind. Knowing flight operations can track aircraft in real-time – plus having the ability to communicate with other assets, controlling agencies, and our operations department for support issues – is essential for safe and efficient operations,” said Erickson Air-Crane Chief Pilot Dave Barnett. “The communication feature additionally increases our availability for customers who rely on us as an aerial firefighting asset.”