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Helicopter Focus: UK firefighters may work in partnership with police to deploy by helicopter and beat traffic jams
The UK's Essex County Fire and Rescue Service may acquire a helicopter within two years, to beat the growing traffic jams that hinder deploying fire fighters at the station where they are most needed.

The UK's Essex County Fire and Rescue Service may acquire a helicopter within two years, to beat the growing traffic jams that hinder deploying fire fighters at the station where they are most needed.

The service says it is studying the feasibility of working in operational partnership with the London Metropolitan police base at Lippitts Hill. "Early indications suggest that this would represent the most cost-effective option," says a spokesman. "Our intention is to implement new ways of working to allow station management teams to plan resources effectively and flexibly to ensure fire appliances are kept available, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

The service spends around £0.4 million every year moving personnel between stations every day to cover for absences, creating "unnecessary road movements which may impact on safety and the environment and is a system which many firefighters dislike."

If confirmed, the plan would result in one of the newer innovative roles suggested for helicopters, whose crews can suffer dangers ranging from injury in actual fire fighting to assault.

At Stornoway Sheriff Court, Aaron Moore, 27, of Portnaguran, Isle of Lewis, was jailed for six months for assaulting a winch man from the Stornoway coastguard's Sikorsky. Moore waved to the helicopter, jumped into the water and was winched into the aircraft.

During the journey, winch man Tony Oliver was assaulted and the rear crew had to restrain Moore. Moore pleaded guilty to contravention of the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005 and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

Helibravo fires the imagination at Helitech

As the aerial "firefighting season" in Europe comes to a close, Portuguese helicopter operator Helibravo arranged for two of its helicopters to demonstrate firefighting capabilities during Helitech. Helibravo teamed up with Cascais airport, the local fire department and the Portuguese National Authority for Civil Protection, to create a live firefighting scenario at the airport. The airport authority temporarily stopped all commercial flights on two afternoons to accommodate the events.

Helibravo recently brought two AS350B3s into service and expects to acquire more in the next three years. Its 14-strong fleet now includes three AS350B2s and one EC130B4. The company, headquartered at Cascais, undertakes services freight transport, external load and aerial photography as well as aerial firefighting. It also runs the first pilot school in the Iberian peninsula exclusively dedicated to training private and commercial helicopter pilots.

Helitech 2008, supported by the European Helicopter Association and the British Helicopter Advisory Board, attracted more than 100 exhibitors from 18 different countries. Exhibition director Sue Bradshaw says: "The response to our first visit to Portugal has been phenomenal so I'm delighted to announce that we are planning to hold another Helitech here in 2010. This will again offer the opportunity to focus on issues that are particularly relevant to the southern European helicopter community." More than 1,350 people attended and there were 108 exhibiting companies from 18 different countries.

Bristow advances plans for European HQ

Separately Bristow has confirmed plans for a new European head-quarters and training academy in Aberdeen. Construction is due to start next month and Bristow expects to move into their new HQ by May 2009.

John Cloggie, director of European operations for Bristow Helicopters in Aberdeen, says: "The high specification accommodation at Kirkhill Commercial Park in Dyce includes over 12,000 sq ft of office space, 6,000 sq ft of classroom/ training accommodation and 11,500 sq ft capable of housing up to four flight simulators, two of which will be installed during the construction phase."

Paul Quick, training and standards manager and head of training, says the first two new training simulators have been purchased for the new complex, while a third existing simulator will remain at the company's current site near Aberdeen airport.

Bristow has awarded the interim contract for the Integrated Aviation Consortium, which transports offshore workers from Aberdeen to Scatsta in Shetland, to Eastern Airways. The contract, which will run from February 2009 to the end of June 2010, will involve up to 12 round trips a day and four Saab 2000s. The permanent contract is being put out to tender.

PAS acquires third EC135 and Aramco adds AW139

The Egyptian Petroleum Air Services (PAS) is to acquire a third EC135 with an option to add two more. Its first EC135 was delivered end of 2007 and the second early in 2008. They are used to transport oil rig crews from the Egyptian mainland to the oil rigs.

PAS says the EC135 is suited for offshore operation with short distance and small decks. "It can accommodate one or two pilots and five to six passengers. Its low fuel consumption and easy serviceability make it reliable and highly efficient to operate. It can fly in all weather conditions and has low maintenance costs and good safety and comfort. The spacious cabin can be easily accessed through large sliding doors on the sides and through wide rear clamshell doors. It offers optimal usage possibilities and can be rapidly reconfigured thanks to its flat floor. A wide range of authorised special equipment is also available." The EC135 has a maximum take-off weight of 2,910 kg, a range of 645 km and a maximum cruising speed of 257 km/h.

An AW139 medium twin has entered service with Saudi Aramco whose fleet of AW139s is being used to support oil and gas operations in Saudi Arabia and operate alongside a fleet of seven AW109 Powers that were delivered in 2006.

Ukraine updates emergency cover

In the Ukraine, the Ministry of Emergencies is to acquire two EC145s. "Based in the Kiev region, they will be used for a wide range of missions that cover rescue, emergency medical evacuation and fire fighting," the ministry says. "The helicopters will be delivered in 2009 and missions will include rescue, emergency medical evacuation and fire fighting as well as road and mine accidents." Both helicopters will be home based at the Special Aviation Squadron at Nizhyn in Chernihivska Oblast.

The ministry adds: "The EC145 is able to carry one or two pilots and up to nine passengers. With a fast cruise speed of 135 kts and an endurance of up to 3.5 hours, the EC145 is the right helicopter for rescue, emergency medical situations, police and homeland security missions."

Lutz Bertling, president and ceo of Eurocopter says: "This was the first time a ministry in Ukraine organised a tender open to Western helicopter manufacturers."

Bavaria focuses on advanced policing needs

The Bavarian Ministry of the Interior is acquiring eight EC135 P2is for the Bavarian police helicopter squadron. Slated for delivery between September 2009 and April 2010, the EC135's police-specific equipment includes a FLIR camera, a high resolution digital day and night vision camera, Satcom, GPS, a digital map device, Tetra digital radio, FLARM collision warning system, a tactical direction finder, a digital flight management system and a GSM telephone.

Interior minister Joachim Herrmann says: "In the 1970s, police helicopters were used only for traffic monitoring. Since then, they have adopted a variety of other tasks, including crime fighting, missing persons searches, support in disaster relief missions, and the handling of special traffic and mission situations. Our police helicopter squadron is in service 24 hours a day and requires the best equipment available to support its work."

He says the P2is are suitable for operation under IFR and are fitted with glass cockpits approved for operations with night vision goggles. A rescue hoist, an external load hook system and four rescue winches are also part of the contract. "The winches can be installed on each of the eight helicopters as and when required."

In Salzburg, Helios Hubschrauber, which carries out heavy lifting work and aerial photography and filming for German and Austrian television companies, would like to make it clear that it operates one 500D helicopter not four as reported in EBAN November.

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