Towards the end of February, at the 2018 Heli-Expo show, DART launched its new firefighting bucket. The bucket, in its red, black and white colors, hung proudly at DART’s booth for everyone to get a first glimpse at DART’s entry into the firefighting market. To no one’s surprise, the unveiling of the bucket made a splash with the attendees of the show.
At that point in time, only a mock-up of the 320-gallon bucket had been built, but there were big plans for this new product!
At first, multiple prototypes were built and tested at DART’s San Diego facility. San Diego is one of the company’s strongest testing locations where DART holds the correct equipment for testing products such as the bucket. The team leveraged all of the facility’s testing capabilities, which includes testing pools and fabric tooling which have been used for DART flotation systems.
“We approached the development of this external load kit with the same care that we give our STC’d products. With our certification background and aerospace engineering expertise, we have put a lot of thought into the design of this piece and for us, the bucket is another step towards building mission-critical equipment of the highest value for aircraft OEMs and operators,” explains Pablo Bravo, Director of Engineering in DART’s San Diego facility.
Just over a month ago, the bucket was delivered to Guardian Helicopters for a second phase of testing – the real life testing. All in all, this testing phase exceeded expectations. DART’s team of engineers put the bucket to the test in a variety of rugged flight conditions. Testing included functionality checks in damaged conditions, in-flight stability assessments, simulated bucket maneuvers and a large number of drops in forward flight and banked turns. As the bucket flew at speed, the accuracy of the drops was also assessed.
Bravo added, “We found it important for us to simulate real world working conditions to test out the bucket. Not only did we test its functionality but made sure to prove its reliability.”
“Our test pilot was impressed that even with the removal of parts to try and disable the bucket, it continued to be stable in flight, had no issues picking up and dumping water as before,” noted Phillip DiFiore, President of Guardian Helicopters.
Other in-house tests included:
- Operability testing
- Working environment testing
- Component structural testing
- Endurance vibration testing
- Control head cycle testing
Today, production of this USA-built product has commenced in order to fulfill an already strong backlog. There is no doubt to say that this new product is in high-demand, which is exemplified by a large number of orders to this day. The next available bucket delivery is scheduled for August 2018.
“This bucket is not only a great complement to DART baskets, long lines and remote hooks, but one that is rightly priced, and compatible with what’s existing on the market,” concludes Bravo.
Customers can call their DART representative for their introductory pricing.
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