Fire-fighting choppers to the rescue!

Added on 13 August 2010 by Tim Robinson

The wildfires that are now engulfing parts of Western Russia have led to massive devastation, with some 600 fires burning and the smoke and heat visible even from space. The human cost is immense too, with over 50 dead in the forest blazes and the daily death rate in Moscow doubled because of the choking smog. To deal with this, the authorities have resorted to aircrews with a unique mission – aerial fire-fighting and currently some 39 aircraft and helicopters are engaged in battling the fires. One of these types used is  a tough helicopter with an equally tough job.

This chopper - one of the most effective weapons in the arsenal is the Kamov Ka-32 – a Russian-built coaxial configuration helicopter that can lift 5tonnes of water in a bucket and dump it precisely on a fire. Operated by the Russian Emergency Ministry these powerful helicopters have been working non-stop on the front line saving lives and property.

But it is not just in Russia where these helicopters are a vital tool in fighting fires. Earlier this year, courtesy of Russian Helicopters, Aerospace International travelled to Spain where this Russian-built chopper is flown by Spanish helicopter services company Inaer and used in the aerial fire-fighting role.

During the trip, we witnessed a fire-fighting demonstration and were able to take air-to-air shots of this impressive machine in action as it scoops up five tonnes of water from a lake in seconds, runs in fast to the fire zone and dumps the water exactly where it is needed. The sight is truly impressive and a testament to the sheer power of the helicopter and precise flying skills of the pilots. Aerial fire-fighting, with smoke, turbulence and multiple aircraft in a confined area, can be one of the most dangerous flying jobs around.

It may not be prettiest helicopter in the world – but many more people this summer are glad that the Kamov Ka-32 is on duty!

To read more about the Kamov Ka-32, fire-fighting operations and Inaer – look out for the September issue of Aerospace International.

from the Royal Aeronautical Society

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One Response to “Fire-fighting choppers to the rescue!”

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