Smart Helicopter Buckets for Fire Fighting

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: N/A
Agency Tracking Number: 34538
Amount: $209,915.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 1998
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
P.O. Box 3073, Princeton, NJ, 08543
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Mr. Andrew E. Kaufman
 Principal Investigator
 () -
Business Contact
Phone: () -
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop an improved bucket design that will revolutionize the approach to fire suppression. Helicopters now use slung buckets to deliver water, retardants and foam to fire sites. The urgency of time (fire control lines must be established before the fire overruns them) and the need for expensive equipment (helicopters typically cost $20 million and rent for $5,000 per hour) demand that rapid -- and controllable -- technologies be used. Unfortunately, current bucket technology does not have any means to control the release of material delivered, except by varying the speed and height of the aircraft. With the smart bucket design proposed herein, the pilot simply selects the coverage level and volume of the material to be deposited. A system controller then opens the bucket valve on command and varies its position to provide uniform flow rate and deposition. More strategic use of the bucket contents will then occur. Instrument inputs for wind speed, ground speed, acceleration and release height will be used to adjust valve position to obtain the desired coverage level under the helicopter and downwind of its flight path. When installed, this system will reduce operational costs, increase pilot safety, and save millions of dollars in resources (life and property) by putting down reliable fire control lines and/or extinguish the fire more quickly.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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