Fighting Wildfires by Air

Aerofex is studying development of a 1,000+ lb. payload tandem-duct UAV for construction, farming, and fighting wildfires. For the latter application, it would be capable of dropping water or retardant at rates comparable to light helicopters. The machines would be trailered close to the fire-line rather than deployed from airports, and their pilots would operate them safely out of harm’s way.

A specific area of interest is the tandem-duct’s flight characteristics while carrying a slung load. While it is not expected the load will adversely affect control authority, the platform’s performance under load needs to be assessed. To evaluate these flight dynamics Aerofex has built a 200 lb. demonstrator UAV which is being readied for flight. It will carry a scaled load and replicate the operational environment of the larger platform to inform its final design.