Two fire-fighting S-64 Erickson Aircrane helicopters took off from Terminal Cerros de Valparaíso (TCVAL) to join the forest fire extinguishing tasks in the regions of Maule and Bio Bio, providing their service to the Arauco forest conservation entity.
The aircraft arrived at position 6, Port of Valparaíso, on Wednesday, and were downloaded by a mobile Gottwald crane, after which they were transferred to the coastline sector along with their blades and components for assembly, subsequently starting their flight to the center/south of the country.
Both helicopters, brought to Chile by Eurocopter, have vast experience in providing assistance in natural disasters all over the world.
In turn, “Annie”, the helicopter that played a leading role during the first half of 2018 providing services in Bio Bio, has worked in fire-fighting activities in the U.S.A. and Europe (of particular interest is its involvement in the latest events in the state of California). “SunBird”, on the other hand, has spent eight consecutive years fighting fires in the city of San Diego.
About the capacities of the S-64 Erickson Aircrane, Arauco’s executive indicated that “it is able to launch a huge water attack, rapidly and effectively, to fight a fire, thus facilitating brigade tasks. In addition, it has the potential to complete up to 10 incursions/hour, thereby increasing fire extinguishing capacities”.
The S-64 Erickson Aircrane may operate alone over 246 nautical miles, 21 meters long, with a rotor diameter of 21.2 meters and 6 blades, with a comprehensive fire-fighting system, through a “Snorkel” for suction-based water loading. Thanks to this, it is able to load its main tank with up to 10 thousand liters, descending over a water source within 45 seconds and launching operations in 8 different modes, from partial operations to a full discharge of 10,000 liters in 3 seconds.
For this 2018-2019 season, both high-capacity aircraft will be operated by two pilots, plus another four back-up crews and two teams of mechanics, engineers and logistic assistants, involving more than 50 persons.