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Heli Austria has announced that after many months of research and investigation for the design and supply of an underbelly aerial fire suppression tank suitable for the company’s Super Puma fleet, it has chosen Australian company Helitak Fire Fighting Equipment to complete the contract.
Helitak will design and manufacture a tank in excess of 1,000 gallons to complement the very capable Airbus AS332, H215 and H225 Super Puma model. The Super Puma and the Helitak FT4250 fire tank will be packaged as the Super Puma FIRECAT.
In making the announcement, Heli Austria CEO Roy Knaus said: “Heli Austria was founded in 1982 and has grown to one of the major players in Aerial Work and HEMS in the Alps. The group operates 35 helicopters and employs 200 aviation enthusiastic people from bases in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Iceland and Greece with having the main focus of high-altitude work all across the Alps.”
In 2016 Heli Austria entered the heavy lift market with four AS332 Super Pumas developing the low empty weight and high performing FIRECATs and considers the Helitak FT4250 fire tank the optimal solution for future worldwide firefighting operations. An additional eight AS332 Super Pumas have been acquired which will be offered for wet and dry lease operation overseas.
Further enhancements will be EFIS night vision goggle (NVG) certified cockpits for night firefighting operations. The AS332, now renamed Airbus H215, is certified worldwide for unrestricted commercial operations and is considered as one of the most effective firefighting tools on the market with the FT4250 enhancing its capabilities.
The Super Puma FIRECAT aircraft — whilst being extremely capable in the aerial firefighting space and can carry up to 20 fire, medical or support personnel — lacked the added advantage of a suitable fire tank for the delivery of water to the fire ground. The Australian Helitak design has a proven track record of more than a decade and is designed to generate the highest amount of head pressure or mechanical force available due to the funnel shape of the Helitak retractable water bag. This head pressure provides the operator with ultimately the most controllable water delivery whether it be high canopy penetration or lower level vegetation and grass fire management.
The tank, known as the FT4250 FIRECAT offers a maximum capacity of 4250 liters (just over 1,100 gallons), fills in 40 to 50 seconds, offers a quick and easy installation and removal and has an empty weight of around 300 kg or 660 pounds with a retracted flying profile of only 300 mm or 12 inches.
The design team at Helitak have also developed a next generation Programmable Logic Controller that provides all the telemetry and data that we require for reporting and maintenance management and overall, they have produced a very impressive design specification that complimented the Heli Austria approach.
Heli Austria said it has enjoyed working with the Helitak team and looks forward to continuing the relationship long into the future.
The first tank has completed final testing and is packed ready to air freight to California for FAA flight testing and installation approvals, which will be followed with both EASA and Transport Canada certifications.
Currently Helitak manufactures a range of fire tanks specifically designed to suit the Sikorsky S-61 and the UH-60 and S-70i Black Hawk; the Airbus H125 AS350 B3 AStar; and the Bell 212, 214 and 214ST, and are currently finalizing designs and data package for the Leonardo AW139, 169 and 189 the Boeing CH-47. Concept drawings for the Russian Helicopters KA-32 and Mil 17/8 are also underway.
Heli Austria is to launch the new FT4250 Super Puma FIRECAT at the 2020 HAI Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California, on the Helitak Fire Fighting Equipment booth.