Canadian helicopter operator VIH Helicopters, part of the VIH Aviation Group, has developed a technologically advanced power fill bucket for utilisation with its fleet of Sikorsky S61 and Kamov KA-32A11BC helicopters on aerial wildfire suppression applications.
Drawing on expertise from Bend, Oregon-headquartered aviation engineering company Kawak Aviation Technologies and from within its operations and engineering teams, VIH’s power fill bucket is capable of filling at a rate of over 2,000-2,200 gpm in as little as 20 inches of water, in less than 20 seconds. This allows VIH’s aircraft to draw from water sources in close proximity to the intended target, significantly reducing flight time while achieving a greater number of water drops in a shorter time frame. The innovative design operates on a Kawak 25HP pump and includes a high output axial flow design, stainless steel construction throughout, impeller and stator design for reduced friction losses and heavy-duty bearing housings.
VIH’s power fill bucket also boasts the ability to inject gel as required, with a system developed and constructed by Barracuda Environmental Solutions. The Barracuda system measures water volume within the bucket and self-calibrates to inject exact gel amounts to achieve precise mixtures. Utilising this gel water mix ratio has proven to increase fire suppression effectiveness and allow the drops to remain effective as a fire suppressant for a longer term than water alone. All water pick up and drop off locations are satellite tracked, and note specific water and gel mixture volumes.