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Dousing the flames

WEB EXCLUSIVE

Dousing the flames
Conair introduced the latest technology in air tanker delivery with a curtain of water stretching the 5,300-foot runway 01 July 27 in Abbotsford. Attendees included members of the B.C. government forestry and wildfire management officials.


July 28, 2011
By Paul Dixon

July 28, 2011 – Conair introduced the latest technology in air tanker
delivery with a curtain of water stretching the 5,300-foot runway 01 July 27 in Abbotsford. Attendees included members of the B.C.
government forestry and wildfire management officials.

conair_cfyyj_1  
Larger tanks made of lighter composite materials allow Conair’s new tanker to deliver a higher payload.


 

The proven platform of the Lockheed Electra equipped with larger tanks made of lighter, composite materials, sophisticated computer-controlled release technology and satellite communications provides greater flexibility in delivering fire retardant effectively and efficiently across a wide range of environments.

Rick Pedersen, Conair’s Senior Vice President, explains that using lighter composite materials for the tank enables a payload almost 1,200 litres more than that previously delivered by Conair’s DC-6. The old tanks have 12 separate compartments with their own drop doors. While there was a degree of control over the release of each compartment, a full drop would look like a series of surges, with sharp peaks and valleys as doors opened and compartments emptied. The degree of control was such that variations in successive drops could be as much as 15 per cent. Now, utilizing the latest technology, drops can be fine-tuned to a variation of no more than two to three per cent – and the almost infinite control over the release produces an almost seamless wall of water or retardant. Data tracking technology and satellite communication links provide real-time information on all aspects of each drop.

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The B.C. forests range from the dense coastal forests of Vancouver Island and the coast, through the open rangelands of the Cariboo-Chilcotin to the boreal forests and muskeg of the north; each requiring a different application technique. Tall, dense forests require a heavy, concentrated drop that will penetrate the high tree canopies to get retardant down to the forest floor, while the lesser density of the interior and northern forests allow a more sustained drop that can cover a greater area.