Fighting Fire From The Sky
AVIATOR 300 Used Aboard Australian Fire-spotting Aircraft
Fire-spotting aircraft have played a vital role in fire fighting
for over twenty years and large scale events such as the
catastrophic 'Black Saturday' bush fires in Victoria, Australia in
February 2009, have required innovative approaches to beat
Part of this innovation is the use of Cobham's
cutting-edge satcom solutions such as the AVIATOR 300 to provide
real-time snapshots of fire activity, making them a vital tool for
the Victoria State Aircraft Unit's (SAU) fire fighting
An initiative of the SAU Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the
Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), the
SAU provides specialist aviation resources to satisfy fire and land
management objectives in the state of Victoria.
The first Cobham AVIATOR 300 was installed aboard the
SAU's Super King Air B200 by Inmarsat Gold Partner, TC
Communications in December 2009, followed by a second AVIATOR 300
installation aboard the SAU's Cessna 404 Titan aircraft in February
Adam Damen, Technical Systems Specialist, Victoria's SAU
explains: "For us, the AVIATOR 300 SwiftBroadband system means
providing regular real-time snapshots of a fire zone, regardless of
how remote the location.
"The system has also been designed to allow for remote access to
fire data, enabling us to assist other regions with their fire
For example we sent one of our planes to Tasmania to assist with a
small bushfire north west of Hobart. We were able to fly down,
transmit the data and fly back to the mainland without having to
land the plane.
This represented a huge success both in terms of the cost
effectiveness of the mission and the capability it provided to
collect and transmit valuable data," adds Adam.
The launch of Inmarsat's 'broadband-for-the-sky' service,
SwiftBroadband, has been a key milestone, particularly for smaller
It introduced significantly greater bandwidth capability and
'always-on' IP connection combined with the availability of
compact, lightweight avionics.
As well as enabling fire activity maps to be delivered quickly,
SwiftBroadband technology also enables Victoria's fire agencies to
assist in planning for resources needed to fight fires.
Adam concludes: "The sophisticated level of intelligence
provided by the Cobham AVIATOR 300 SwiftBroadband solution is
imperative to our missions if we are to continue to protect the
homes and lives of Australians when a bush fire strikes."
Improved Resource Planning
Australian bushfires continue to threaten and devastate the
country's environment, but the ability for fire fighters to predict
and prevent their movement will undoubtedly save lives.
While satcom onboard fire spotting aircraft can not completely
prevent a fire from occurring, they are proven as playing a
critical role in preparing fire fighters by providing them with
access to valuable data that can be relayed to the ground station
Victoria's SAU can rest assured that when the next bush fire
takes its hold, they can rely on Cobham's AVIATOR 300 to give them
a fighting chance.