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NVG Rotar Wing Firefighting in Alberta


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I just watched a Vancouver Global News piece on the TV. Apparently Ascent Helicopters has been awarded a 5 year contract to provide NVG firefighting services utilizing a medium platform with their custom belly tank. The news piece detailed Ascent's journey to being certified to do this and how complex and expensive the process and equipment is.

What I found kind of interesting is that for the general public watching the show who might have no first hand knowledge of the industry, it sounded like Ascent was doing something almost completely unique. The story was essentially portrayed as this capability being a new, groundbreaking improvement in service delivery. While I applaud other operators being certified in this potentially game changing firefighting capability, I think it would be accurate and respectful to make mention of the operator that was the first to offer this capability in BC. I may be incorrect, but I believe that Talon Helicopters literally created the process, training program, and then extensively trialed and proved the concept under an approved program sponsored by the Government of BC back in 2020. Politics and bureaucracy have stalled the implementation of this service, but it was fully available and operational back in 2020.

Anyway, congrats to Ascent for moving ahead with this. Being awarded the BCEHS Rotar Wing contract which requires all pilots to have advanced NVG training probably didn't hurt when it came to paying for the equipment and training! 😋

https://globalnews.ca/news/10456151/bc-helicopter-company-lands-contract-wildfires/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/verticalmag.com/news/talon-helicopters-airbus-as365-dauphin-nighttime-firefighting/%3famp

Full disclosure: I am in no way trying to imply that Ascent was intending to make it sound like this was their unique creation. We all know that we have zero control of the news media's editing process - they often cut and reinterpret interviews to suit their narrative. I just wanted to point out that our industry largely runs on professionalism, mutual respect, and a common goal of providing world leading helicopter services, training, and safety culture. Cheers to Ascent, but it was unfortunate that Global didn't take the opportunity to highlight Talon's  crucial initial leadership and foresight to operationalize this technology in BC back in 2020.

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3 hours ago, twinstar_ca said:

I was under the impression that my dear province of Alberta had invested in a Dauphin or in Talon providing the service.. am I misinformed?? 😲

I see Talon had one of their 365s on the Peace River Fire a few days ago. Not sure if there was Night ops or not!

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Or Forestry could just hire an additional a/c when needed, to initiate bucketing operations at 4 am, or to continue bucketing operations until civil twilight, at what I’m betting would be at least 1/2 the overall cost.  Far cheaper no matter how you count it, when you are taking into consideration they are 5 year contracts. 
 

Twice the iron, more water per dollar, still bucketing the black before it blows up, 1/2 the man power, less overtime, no 24 hour notice to duty time requirements (or whatever they are), easily replaceable when a machine goes mechanical.   ****, you could just  double crew a straight B3 (2.8 hours with a 1821 is comparable to a Dauphin?) for an extra 1500 bucks that day, straight from the nearest local operator.  Or a medium if you are comparing apples to apples.  

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How much of this is because the wildfire folk think this is a cost-effective and efficient way of fighting fire and how much is it to satisfy politicians fascination with flashy, fancy technology?

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1 hour ago, Icewind said:

How much of this is because the wildfire folk think this is a cost-effective and efficient way of fighting fire and how much is it to satisfy politicians fascination with flashy, fancy technology?

We've already been scolded for bringing politics into aviation talk(they are clearly unrelated!) Someone delete this post fast! Shut down the forum early! All is lost!

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I know everybody is worried about jobs, but Night firefighting with tankers makes sense. You can see way more fire with the goggles, and your not fighting flare-ups and runaways like in the daytime. Obviously it's not the end all be all, but it's a good system that is proven to work.

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12 hours ago, twinstar_ca said:

I was under the impression that my dear province of Alberta had invested in a Dauphin or in Talon providing the service.. am I misinformed?? 😲

 I was under the impression from my employer that there are three aircraft on this contract. A Dauphin, a 212 and a 61. All from different companies. Could be wrong though 

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