Night waterbombing

General stuff that gets thrown about when Helicopter Pilots shoot the Breeze.
UnObvious
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Night waterbombing

Postby UnObvious » Mon May 11 2020, 18:16

Inspired by the recent post regarding pilots required by Coulson.

Anyone got any experience around this operation?

The whole concept of running two expensive machines slow and steady for a few hours at night to throw a bit of water from one of them to take advantage of the low temp/high RH just seems like a waste of money.

Happy to have my mind changed, but I feel from my unqualified moral high tower that just launching a bunch of mediums at first light could be more cost effective and achieve a similar goal regarding ambient temp/RH.

I haven't personally been around the night ops, but have a bit of experience throwing water when the sun is up. It's a common frustration when you turn up for an 8am brief and then sit until 2pm when the fire is rocking before they launch you.

Thoughts?
SuperF
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby SuperF » Mon May 11 2020, 18:44

I think you put it perfectly. Launch everything at first light and smack it down before it gets going.

Oh no, let’s wait till we have 100’ flames, then sit back and say “we need bigger toys...”
Jimmy
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby Jimmy » Mon May 11 2020, 22:19

I could see a use for a proper Air Intel machine fitted with EO/IR and NVIS capable at night assisting ground crews detecting hotspots that have jumped containment lines and providing accurate mapping for the Ground commander who can then plan to fight the fire with his ground and air assets at first light.

Fingers crossed new jobs may be created if agencies move to a 24 hour fire fighting capability
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby Helical » Tue May 12 2020, 00:01

From the perspective of those on the ground, having a night aerial ability could have made a huge difference on a number of fires I have been to. Fire behaviour is significantly reduced overnight and the ability to suppress spread and construct containment lines during the reduced intensity could massively reduce the time to get a fire under control.

I am from WA, where the aerial strategy seems to work really well without dependence on LAT's and other PR aircraft.
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Yakking
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby Yakking » Tue May 12 2020, 09:02

I would be really interested to see who they use to fly the role.

Do you take the take the fire guys and give them a NVG rating and some basic IF and hope it all goes well.

Or do you give the IF guys with some NVG under their belts a crack at dropping water?

Both have their pros and cons.

I have never dropped water at night, but spent a bit of time flying low and slow around fires on goggles at night. The goggles lull you into a false sense of security, allowing you to get further into the haze/smoke than the naked eye (The goggle penetrate through the haze to a certain extent).

If you don't have your wits about you, are careless, tired or fatigued, you could easily go IIMC when 'low and slow'. Not a place anyone wants to be. But if you're there, you would want some IF experience to help you recover safely.

I know the ATSB are watching this space very closely and have their reservations about NVG AWK OP's.

Lastly; speaking as a guy who flies more night than day, the novelty wears off flying at night pretty quickly. I wouldn't be pushing for this as an individual.
Flying by day (even early starts) is much more civilised than operating at night.
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Cleared Hot
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby Cleared Hot » Tue May 12 2020, 09:06

I agree with the first post, seems a unnecessary risk, pilots for years have suggested let’s go first light but agency’s never let it happen but waits till afternoon and when it jumps containment lines. I’m sure Victoria pushed for it so they could beat NSW to it and still do it cause they can now. Night time is for relaxing with a beer not risking your life for some forest. Night ops in my opinion and don’t throw the hate is a perfect opportunity for UAV work to take place, they can map, have visual and thermal capability and even conduct aerial ignition, no risk to persons win win.
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Twistgrip
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby Twistgrip » Tue May 12 2020, 10:24

UnObvious wrote:Inspired by the recent post regarding pilots required by Coulson.
It's a common frustration when you turn up for an 8am brief and then sit until 2pm when the fire is rocking before they launch you.

Thoughts?


Well said UnObvious & Cleared Hot. I’ve been out of that side of the industry for some time now, but many years operating on fires at the time and it was always up at first light get to the briefing early then to sit around under a tree till the hottest part of the day waiting for the agency chiefs to fight it out until we got airborne. Having said that it keeps people in jobs by not working too fast. :wink:

Yakking ,it would be fair to say for this kind of operation for 61/ 76 guys they may employ IFR rated guys / ex offshore guys with previous fire experience etc for these night roles, it makes sense, that’s my opinion anyway, there are plenty of guys around that have those quals with lots of fire time under their belts previously.
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godfather007
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby godfather007 » Tue May 12 2020, 11:04

Great points folks.
Hurry up and wait... as we know....
Agency idiots!
Not much has changed and I’m sure it won’t change in the near future.
They love fire, it keeps them employed.
Also Keeps the budget rolling.
It’s a shame we lost so many Australian lives, animals and property’s in the last year.
Keep in mind, they spend a lot of $ for people to scan social media posts to eliminate honest opinions and discrimination towards the empire.
Boom! You can get cut off.
Money invested.. income lost.
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LHS
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby LHS » Tue May 12 2020, 23:25

Not being a driver but onboard and have been working on the NSW fires for a while now and seen it all, brief at 0800, launch around midday, knock off at 2030, then try and find a feed. It seems that the body running the show don't want the airborne assets starting early because if the aircraft fly their ten hours and start at, say 0600, they're done and dusted by at 1600 leaving another 4+ hours of daylight with no coverage. I have been on one fire when Parks decided they would split the aircraft, some starting at 0800 and the rest at 1000 so they could cover the day. Good plan but then some of the drivers got anxious that they were missing out and wouldn't get their 10 hours, so left accommodations and got to the staging at 0830/0900, therefore buggering up the plan. There has been mapping ops done in NSW previously, gets expensive as you need a few more pilots, fly the aircraft day and night, doesn't help the ginger beers either. As said before, night time is for drinking, not flying, let the Vics and drones have it.
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Hello Pilots
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby Hello Pilots » Wed May 13 2020, 01:05

LHS wrote:Not being a driver but onboard and have been working on the NSW fires for a while now and seen it all, brief at 0800, launch around midday, knock off at 2030, then try and find a feed. It seems that the body running the show don't want the airborne assets starting early because if the aircraft fly their ten hours and start at, say 0600, they're done and dusted by at 1600 leaving another 4+ hours of daylight with no coverage. I have been on one fire when Parks decided they would split the aircraft, some starting at 0800 and the rest at 1000 so they could cover the day. Good plan but then some of the drivers got anxious that they were missing out and wouldn't get their 10 hours, so left accommodations and got to the staging at 0830/0900, therefore buggering up the plan. There has been mapping ops done in NSW previously, gets expensive as you need a few more pilots, fly the aircraft day and night, doesn't help the ginger beers either. As said before, night time is for drinking, not flying, let the Vics and drones have it.


LOL....You mean we want YOU there at 0800 but WE will turn up wheneves.

I bet the Oracle Rob Rogers vision is going to be amazing.
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Heli
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby Heli » Thu May 14 2020, 04:31

SuperF wrote:I think you put it perfectly. Launch everything at first light and smack it down before it gets going.

Oh no, let’s wait till we have 100’ flames, then sit back and say “we need bigger toys...”


Ah, the lesson of yesteryear: that's exactly what we used to do!

First light (NSW fires I'm talking about) a Jetranger would go up with AAS and sort out priorities, and the Helitaks would be airborne by 07-08:00 at the latest to start before the dragon awoke. Victoria was renowned for being as SuperF described; crews weren't allowed to sign on before 10:00 and Helitak tasking commenced from 11:00 to try to get as much work out of the duty hours allowed under dispensation. Drivers would only get about four days then have to have a break so efficiency was cr@p and costs involved in changing out crews were quite high, apart from having to battle fires with more ferocity at midday because the early morning opportunities were thrown away.

If we were on a campaign fire in NSW I'd put on two pilots alternating morning/afternoon so we could fly the machine all day, with a crewman to do refuelling etc. Worked exceptionally well but DSE Victoria wouldn't allow that until they invented the idea years later but still wouldn't permit multi crewing without their approval.

Have we gone back to the bad old (Victoria 1990s) days?
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby angrywasp » Sun May 17 2020, 08:50

This type of operation is where SMS can prove effective to try and figure out the risk versus the reward or more specifically a realistic appraisal of the hazards versus effective mitigation of the risks to an acceptable level that would withstand legal scrutiny.
In some US states night fire bombing is conducted where there is plenty of urban background lighting and I understand, with a crew of two. The notion of charging off into the gloom in the middle of the night to extinguish a pine tree really does beggar belief but not that uncommon in NZ some years back. There was a bit of a rethink after a double fatality there back in 2011 or early 2012.
It has been four years since I ceased aerial fire fighting and at that time ground crews were withdrawn before nightfall to reduce risk. So where is the wisdom in sending a pilot up in a helicopter at night ?
The Agency in charge of the fire has considerable responsibility to the safety of all crews be it on the ground or in the air. Other considerations are fatigue and trying to sleep during the day which is common with the airline industry and handled with their FRMS but just how is the average helicopter operators system going to cope with that ?
Cheers Gents.
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby SuperF » Sun May 17 2020, 09:03

The fatality in NZ wasn’t even waterbombing. They had been fighting the fire During the day and were called to get some people that were in the path of the fire, but on a beach.

It was going to be a Night Air Transport, but they never got there.
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby angrywasp » Sun May 17 2020, 21:26

True enough in that it was not water bombing but was conducting night fire fighting operations. The people were on the beach and if required, although unpleasant they could utilize the sea to avoid the fire. My point is that putting an aircrew at risk to fly at night with unseen smoke disrupting visibility was an accepted process at that time. What was learned from this accident and would the agencies involved and the operators make the same sort of decisions now ?
SuperF
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Re: Night waterbombing

Postby SuperF » Mon May 18 2020, 06:53

Angry wasp, I absolutely agree. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I support night ops.

In NZ currently night ops are allowed, however only in exceptional circumstances, defending lives being about it. There has been a big change over here recently and we now don’t have the red rash trying to take over the whole country....

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