The AFDAU-T1, Australia’s standout additional telemetry unit (ATU) for aerial firefighting, has achieved compliance for the new US Forest Service requirements for event data this week. The update enables all Aerial Firefighting Data Acquisition Unit (AFDAU) units already installed in aircraft to meet compliance specifications.
AFDAU-T1 lead engineer, Zane Vohland, says that with the increase in demand for real-time telemetry in contracts issued by aerial firefighting agencies, the AFDAU-T1’s new compliance is a huge win for operators in the United States.
“It’s clear that ATU requirements are becoming more prevalent in US aerial firefighting contracts. As these requirements make their way from VLATs and type 1 helicopters into smaller aircraft, we are seeing orders from operators who are looking for a turnkey solution that enables them to stay compliant.”
Zane adds that when investing in ATU equipment, operators can find themselves comparing apples to oranges and need to ensure the equipment they are considering provides a full solution.
“Some signs of an incomplete solution include extensive calibration of the ATU device required for volume detection, lack of clear and comprehensive documentation on how to interface with the various sensors required, lack of validated end-to-end data pipeline from hardware to agency portal, and a lack of proven results, including accurate volume reporting, for the applicable airframe and sensor configuration.
In addition to this Zane says that despite years of development, many ATU devices still face the same issues of how a device detects and records particular events.
“Due to the dynamic nature of firefighting operations, it’s not unusual to see errors in the types of event data coming off ATUs. These typically occur on take-off and landing events, engine on and off events, and inaccurate recordings for fill, drop, and volume events.
“The AFDAU-T1 however leverages a proprietary ‘smart algorithm’ to detect aerial firefighting events with unparalleled fidelity. Through extensive R&D and close partnerships with some of Australia’s key fixed-wing and helicopter firefighting operators, we have developed a large and comprehensive dataset of aerial firefighting operations and expanded our expertise in the field, to deliver, in the AFDAU-T1,” says Zane.
In addition to the US Forest Service compliance, Airborne Mission Systems, the makers of the AFDAU, has also developed a diagnostic tool which allows avionics engineers to quickly identify and rectify any communication issues (wiring, connections etc) between another device and the AFDAU at the point of install. This has the potential to save thousands of dollars of time both on the ground and in the air trying to troubleshoot installation issues.
The AFDAU is available worldwide exclusively via leading aerial firefighting tracking and communications company TracPlus.