9-Jan-2023 Source: Ecocopter
According to figures provided by CONAF, which are updated daily, in the 2022-2023 season there have already been nearly 2,700 forest fires and more than 47,000 hectares have been affected. It is in the midst of this scenario and with the aim of supporting and improving aerial tactics in the fight against forest fires, that two SuperPuma AS332 helicopters landed in Chile.
The Chilean company Ecocopter, together with Babcock, is in charge of operating the aircraft, which will be working in the Biobío and Araucanía Regions to help extinguish the fires.
Mauricio Neira, Ecocopter’s Forestry Manager, stated that “the presence of the SuperPuma in Chile is a guarantee and an example of how the forestry industry is taking the necessary measures to prevent these types of catastrophes from spreading and can be controlled with fast, efficient and safe aircraft, through world-class expert crews”.
The SuperPuma helicopter is capable of dropping up to 3,500 liters of water and can carry 16 firefighters or firefighters. These features enable it to meet the demands of the forest fire season in the semi-heavy helicopter segment.
The SuperPuma has an autonomy of up to 3 hours, 20 meters long, a rotor diameter of 16.20 meters with 4 blades and a complete system for firefighting, through a helibucket for water loading. With this mechanism, the SuperPuma AS332 can load its main tank, landing on a water source in a few seconds and allowing launches in different modes, from partial launches to full discharge in six seconds.
On this occasion, the aircraft will be commanded by pilots and crews from Europe, and will have a staff of mechanics, engineers and logistical support that totals more than 4 people per aircraft, which will be in Chile until the end of the 2023 season.
“Its qualities allow a large volume of water attack, fast and effective in firefighting, thus facilitating the work of the brigades. Additionally, it has the potential to perform up to 30 or more raids per hour (depending on the distance to the water loading point), which means an increase in firefighting capabilities,” explains Jose Gil, pilot and Head of Firefighting Operations at Babcock.
It is worth noting that during the 2021/2022 season, which runs from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, the area damaged by forest fires increased, reaching 125,339 hectares, of which 86,910 correspond to intentional fires, according to the Annual Environment Report published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Therefore, the arrival of these titans of the air is essential to extinguish the forest fires that break out in the country and cause so much damage to people and the environment.