Aerial firefighting at night is now possible with new high-altitude drop system

Since 1953, firefighters have been battling flames by flying planes low to the ground and dropping liquids or foams that can suppress fires. When we say low, we mean at between 100 and 120 ft (30 and 36 m). Such basement floor flying is extremely dangerous, but it’s necessary because if the liquid payload is dropped from a higher altitude, it will turn into an aerosol and float away ineffectively.

The problem is this necessity to fly low can be very dangerous, so much so that dropping liquids can’t be done at night, meaning fires have many hours to burn as they please.

The good news is this might no longer be a problem after an Israel-based company called Elbit Systems demonstrated a new high-altitude, high-precision aerial firefighting system that allows aircraft to drop fire suppressants from much higher altitudes. Called HyDrop, the system successfully dropped biodegradable liquid pellets from two Air Tractor aircraft at altitudes of up to 500 ft (150 m) in a field exercise.

According to the makers, HyDrop can operate with much greater flexibility because it can drop its load from four times higher than the average altitude, which is high enough to legally operate at night. Considering the prominence of wildfires today, this new high-altitude drop system could be huge in helping quell flames before they start spreading too far.

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Aerial firefighting at night is now possible with new high-altitude drop system

Since 1953, firefighters have been battling flames by flying planes low to the ground and dropping liquids or foams that can suppress fires. When we say low, we mean at between 100 and 120 ft (30 and 36 m). Such basement floor flying is extremely dangerous, but it’s necessary because if the liquid payload is dropped from a higher altitude, it will turn into an aerosol and float away ineffectively.

The problem is this necessity to fly low can be very dangerous, so much so that dropping liquids can’t be done at night, meaning fires have many hours to burn as they please.

The good news is this might no longer be a problem after an Israel-based company called Elbit Systems demonstrated a new high-altitude, high-precision aerial firefighting system that allows aircraft to drop fire suppressants from much higher altitudes. Called HyDrop, the system successfully dropped biodegradable liquid pellets from two Air Tractor aircraft at altitudes of up to 500 ft (150 m) in a field exercise.

According to the makers, HyDrop can operate with much greater flexibility because it can drop its load from four times higher than the average altitude, which is high enough to legally operate at night. Considering the prominence of wildfires today, this new high-altitude drop system could be huge in helping quell flames before they start spreading too far.

Solution News Source

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