As a leader in the field of unmanned aerial systems, Bell Helicopter has developed its own drone designed for firefighting. This new drone can put out fires safely, softly and with extreme precision.
The Bell 407 VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) drone is essentially a small helicopter that is capable of taking off and landing vertically. It has a powerful engine that allows it to carry over 1,000 pounds of water or fire suppressant in its external tanks.
The Bell 407’s advanced computer system allows it to fly autonomously using GPS to follow pre-programmed routes. It also can be controlled remotely by humans at all times if needed.
Bell says the drone can reach a top speed of around 120 mph and fly up to 100 miles between fill-ups.
The Bell 407GXi has been chosen by Fire Drones Inc. to be the airframe of choice for its FireFLY6 PRO aerial firefighting system, integrating the intelligence, safety and precision to combat fires quickly, effectively and safely at an affordable price point.
This new aircraft features enhanced powertrain capabilities, including a 4% power increase from the M250-C47E/4 turbine engine. The 407GXi also includes a Garmin G1000H NXi flight deck equipped with dual 10” touchscreen controllers and the latest in electronic stability and protection technology.
Bell’s next-generation cockpit is designed with the pilot in mind, featuring modern touchscreen controls that allow pilots to fly simpler and safer, while providing an interactive experience.
The FireFLY6 PRO is an integrated unmanned aerial firefighting solution that mounts easily onto the Bell 407GXi. With its fully automated 3D mapping and mission planning capabilities, the FireFLY6 PRO allows pilots to plan their mission in advance or while airborne with real-time situational awareness using maps, digital terrain models and aerial imagery. FireFLY6’s advanced flight control algorithms paired with its three dimensional mapping capabilities provide pilots with unmatched precision to precisely drop water or retardant over fire lines on
The Bell 407 helicopter is one of the most popular on the market, with more than 1,700 units built since its launch in 1996. The firm has now unveiled a new application for the aircraft that could benefit emergency services and its clients: a drone-like water cannon capable of putting out fires.
A standard Bell 407 has been fitted with a special tank which can carry up to 150 gallons (570 liters) of water that can be pumped out at low pressure with considerable precision. The aircraft was designed to operate as a firefighting drone, but it can also deliver water to remote areas where people are in need of urgent help.
The idea was developed by Bell Helicopter’s innovation team along with partner companies PrecisionHawk and Inomize as part of a 30-day project called “Skunkworks”. The project was inspired by research showing that agricultural drones are much more effective at fighting fires than conventional ground-based equipment, due to their ability to operate quickly and cover large areas.
Bell has said that it will present the prototype at Heli-Expo 2017 in Dallas next week, and the company plans to have the technology ready for commercial use by 2018. It is also considering an unmanned version with retractable landing gear and
A variant of Bell Helicopter’s 407GXP multirole single-pilot helicopter, the Bell 407GX Firewatch is a unique and capable firefighting machine.
“The Firewatch is the next generation of technology that will allow us to fly more safely in wildland fires and assist with suppression efforts,” said Jay Johnson, a helicopter manager with the U.S. Forest Service. “This new concept of operations will help our fire fighters get on the ground safer.”
The project began in June 2015 as a way to solve a longstanding problem: The need for accurate water drops on remote, steep terrain. Bell Helicopter worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service and other organizations to develop a solution that would address all aspects of this challenge, the result being an innovative fusion of VTOL and precision delivery technology that could be applied across multiple industries, including firefighting, offshore oil, search and rescue and utility applications.
The key feature of the Firewatch is its ability to rapidly transition from forward flight to hover mode and back again, allowing a pilot to make pinpoint-accurate water drops during low-level maneuvers over rugged terrain or at high altitude. It is also equipped with a fixed skid landing gear system that can land in confined areas
Bell Helicopter’s new 407GX will have a firefighting role with the introduction of its Firewatch technology, which includes a long-range water cannon and an optional infrared camera.
The water cannon is mounted on the right side of the helicopter and is operated by the pilot in flight or by personnel on the ground using a remote control. The cannon can discharge up to 400 liters (105 gallons) of water per minute, out to a distance of more than 6 meters (20 feet). The infrared camera is designed to locate hot spots inside the fire, possibly reducing the number of aircraft required for effective fire suppression.
It also comes equipped with powerful twin engines that can take off vertically without requiring runways. This feature enables it to reach hard-to-access areas quickly, provides space for crew and protective equipment, and allows it to land in small areas near fires.
The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter; a derivative of the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger. The 407 uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane main rotor with composite hub developed for the 206L-4. The 407 has a two-bladed tail rotor derived from the 207. The helicopter fuselage is 14 inches (36 cm) longer than the LongRanger and features a clamshell style door on the right side and a conventional door on the left side. The tail boom is extended 6 in (15 cm). A novel feature of the Bell 407 is its four-axis digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), which provides exceptional handling qualities that enhance mission performance and safety. The AFCS also allows an advanced category of stability augmentation to be introduced into high-performance helicopter operations that are subject to ground reference maneuvering (GRM) requirements such as sling load operations.
The Bell 407’s Rolls Royce/Allison 250-C47 turboshaft engine produces 407 shaft horsepower (303 kW), enabling the aircraft to carry an external load of 2,650 pounds (1,202 kg). Standard fuel capacity is 226 US gallons (856 L). Oil capacity is
Bell Helicopter, a Textron company, is an industry-leading producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft. Globally recognized for world-class customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell’s global workforce serves customers flying Bell aircraft in more than 120 countries.
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Bell also offers a variety of accessory options including multiple wheel and skid configurations as well as