The largest firefighting helicopter in the world returns to Chile

Desarrollo Local
Publicado el 14-12-2017

This unit will be available as of mid-December, and will operate in the Bío Bío Region.

The air crane features the ability to fly at low altitudes, strength and stability, and the release of up to 10,000 liters of water per load.

The aircraft is brought to Chile by Ecocopter, a national company that provides high complexity aerial services for ARAUCO, mainly to protect populated areas and industrial facilities.

Ecocopter, a renowned aeronautical business specializing in load transport and high complexity aerial services in Latin America will once again bring to Chile the largest firefighting helicopter of its type in the world, the S-64 Erickson Aircrane, to combat fires this summer.

Named “Annie”, the aircrane is a sister to helicopter “Elvis”, which performed an outstanding job during the first half of 2017 serving mainly in regions Maule and Bío Bío.

“Annie” has a lot of experience with natural disasters and fire fighting in the United States and Europe, especially the more recent events in the State of California.

Like the character in the story she’s named after (known in Chile as “Annie la huerfanita”), “Annie” has a long list of adventures, having served in transport and logistics for over a dozen companies in more than 25 countries worldwide. Before being purchased and operated by its current owner, company Erickson Aircrane, the helicopter’s operators and pilots agree that the aircraft is “robust, strong, has a personality and is brave enough to fly in extremely hostile conditions, which shows its strong character, just like Annie”.

Armando Weinberger, sales manager at Ecocopter, said that “having Annie in Chile at the beginning of the wildfire season is a guarantee and a demonstration of how the forestry industry is taking early measures to prevent the incidents that happened last season”.

“Annie” will arrive in Chile sometime next week and will disembark at the port of Valparaíso. The helicopter will then fly to ARAUCO’s operation base in Santa Juana commune, where it will be in charge of priority fire outbreak control in populated areas.

Charles Kimber, Senior Vice-President of Commercial & Corporate Affairs at ARAUCO, said that “adding Annie to our firefighting and prevention fleet aims to increase our operative capacity for fast fire extinguishing and also, to protect populated areas and zones adjacent to forests, which today are our first priority”.

He also referred to the capabilities of the S-64 Erickson Aircrane, saying that “its qualities allow us to combat fires with a large volume of water; it’s fast and effective in fire combat, facilitating the work of fire brigades. In addition, it’s able to perform 10 missions per hour, which means an increase in fire quenching capacity”.

The S-64 Erickson Aircrane is 21 meters long, it has a rotor diameter of 21.2 meters with 6 blades and a flight range of 246 nautical miles, in addition to a full system for fire combat that involves a “snorkel” device to load water by suction. “Annie” takes 45 seconds to refill its main tank with 10,000 liters and has 8 different coverage levels, from partial deliveries to full discharge of the load in 3 seconds.

On this occasion, “Annie” will arrive with a staff of over 25 people, including a female pilot commander, two supporting crew members, mechanics, engineers and logistic support, all of which will remain in Chile until the end of the 2018 summer season.