The capabilities of Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) in crisis response and coordination will be significantly improved following its introduction of a Eurocopter AS365 N3 helicopter equipped with a high-speed, real-time transmission system using Earth-orbiting relay satellites – a world’s first.
This installation – called the Helicopter Satellite Communication System (HSA) – enables direct transmission to satellites without interruption from a helicopter’s moving rotor blades, and relays data to ground receiving stations. Developed by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, its retrofit integration on the AS365 N3 was handled by the Eurocopter Japan subsidiary of Eurocopter, which also is responsible for the installation’s approval process with Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau. Seiryo Electric Corporation is responsible for the system’s marketing and sales to the FDMA.
The HSA-equipped AS365 N3 was delivered by Eurocopter Japan today, and is expected to be operational with the Fire and Disaster Management Agency in early April. This organization provides a wide range of services in dispatching and coordinating rescue team responses to disaster situations, and is part of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
“High-speed and real-time transmission from airborne helicopters is now a reality – available first to Japan, where the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake reaffirmed the importance of helicopters in disaster response and recovery coordination,” explained Stephane Ginoux, the President & CEO of Eurocopter Japan. “With this technology now available for Japan’s disaster prevention network, the next step will be offering such capability to customers in other countries – benefitting from Eurocopter’s international reach and the support of its EADS parent company.”
Using the HSA’s satellite relay, data can be provided from helicopters even when ground-based networks are interrupted, as well as in situations where line-of-site broadcasts are hampered by mountains or tall buildings.
The AS365 N3 on which Eurocopter Japan installed the HSA is a highly popular helicopter type with fire fighting services, disaster relief organizations and police agencies, as well as the news media. Currently, 55 AS365s are operated in Japan. Eurocopter has a 60 percent market share in the Japanese fire-fighting segment, which includes operations of the BK117 helicopter – developed jointly with Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
Source: Eurocopter, an EADS N.V. company (Paris: EAD.PA)
Date: Mar 28, 2013