Incorporation Of Ua Vs In Aerial Firefighting

1576 words - 6 pages

Incorporation of UAVs in Aerial Firefighting

I. Introduction
An airplane was maneuvering to deliver fire retardant when its left wing separated. The current air tanker fleet fighting forest fires in order to protect the welfare of this nation is plagued by severe issues. Each time a pilot ascends, his and his crews’ lives are at risk, especially in the case of aerial firefighting. The average age of the airtanker fleet recently in commission is fifty years old; many of these are World War II era military aircraft that were later converted to carry tanks of water and chemicals to fight fires. The revised use of these planes has proven to be far too intense as multiple “converts” have experienced mid-air wing loss resulting in the death of those onboard. This issue is ongoing even though the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) discontinued the use of contract antiquated, large airtankers. Despite the BLM decommissioning fatigued, ancient aircraft, aerial firefighting presents inherent danger to pilots and crewmembers that ought to be avoided.

Paired with the innovation of an item amass ideas of ways to use it. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the selection the public is aware of, such as the Predator drone, is one such prime example. UAVs are remotely piloted aircraft, meaning the pilot can be 1000s of miles away. They are basically a fancier form of RC hobbyist planes. An example UAV and its pilot are shown in Figure 1 and 2 at the end of Section II: General Description of UAVs. Law enforcement, aerial firefighting, humanitarian aid, and high-risk rescue missions could all use UAV technology to save lives, both domestic and foreign, both directly and indirectly; whether it is a micro-UAV (MUAV), as small as a humming bird, to stealthily gather reconnaissance in a building filled with enemies or a large-scale UAV to deliver food and medicine to a disaster stricken land in an area too dangerous to risk losing pilots. Both of these examples could easily be applied to aerial fighting. Smaller UAVs could remain in flight nearly continually to detect fires and map out hot spots of forest fires. Large UAVs could be used to spread loads of water and fire retardants over forest fires. However, UAVs are sparingly used in aerial firefighting. Currently, their sole purpose is real-time surveillance of fire locations to aid officials in mission planning. The safety and efficiency of aerial firefighting could be increased significantly if UAVs were to be issued as the primary fleet.

II. General Description of UAVs
UAVs are an aircraft that removes the pilot from an airplane. There are two distinct types of UAVs regarding their piloting methods: line-of-sight and remote. Line-of-sight UAVs are exactly what they sound like; the pilot must personally be able to see the UAV to control it. Typically, this line-of-sight is less than a mile. These are most closely related to RC hobbyist aircraft in that...

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