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Scodev airborne forest fire fighting

Revolutionary airborne forest fire fighting system suitable for many aircraft types 
Increases non-amphibious dropping capacity fivefold
Late November 2018, the Dutch lake 'IJsselmeer' was the scene of initial field trials of the Scodev forest fire-fighting system. This unique system enables authorities to combat wildfires more quickly than currently possible with traditional aerial solutions such as amphibious aircraft and larger non-amphibious waterbombers/air tankers. What’s more, Scodev is a retrofit system for universal deployment by different operators across various aircraft. The tested prototype is a product of intense international cooperation between companies and research institutes, and given the success of the recent tests, field trials will continue next year under more severe conditions. 

Scodev is the short name for this innovative 'scooping device'. In a nutshell: this fire-fighting system comprises a scoop unit that rapidly transfers surface water from bodies of open water through a hose to a holding tank aboard an aircraft. With the aircraft flying well above stall speed at 15 m above the water surface, the scoop penetrates into the water, driving it at high pressure directly into the hose intake. Thanks to the speed of the aircraft, the water is automatically forced up into the airborne water tank, from where it is subsequently dropped onto the fire.

Investment opportunity                                           Article published in the magazine of Army engineers (in Dutch)

The major benefit of this system lies in its reloading rate – a large volume of water can be loaded rapidly– enabling larger air tankers (normally ground-loaded) to perform an average of five drops per hour, rather than just one. Another benefit is that the system can be universally fitted into all kinds of civil or military transport aircraft, so that non-amphibious aircraft can also be flexible and economically deployed for fire-fighting.

From testing...
Michiel Selier, an independent consultant at Aerovantage: “This concept for the scooping and transport of water was engineered and digitally simulated during the design phase. A crucial aspect was the design of the scoop. When this device enters into the water at a speed of 130 knots – that’s 240 km per hour! – the scoop stabilises itself rapidly. Among other things, the incoming water has to be safely accelerated to a top speed in an instant. The design is therefore already patented in Europe and the USA, and in other countries, we have a patent pending. Once the concept was proven to be sound, based on the simulations combined with several lab tests – for example, to test the strength of the hose and coupling – we set about preparing for the field tests.”  

Floris Bremmers works at the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), which supports Scodev with expertise in the fields of aerodynamics, structural design, and airborne testing. He explains: “With the necessary approval of the aviation authorities, the first aerial tests over open water were relatively small, and mainly intended to test the dynamic properties and stability of the system. For example, how the hose and scoop behave during flight, whether the system rolls out of the aircraft properly, and so on. Until now we have tested scoop deployment to the water only from mid-size helicopters.” 

Test flight certification
The success of these preliminary tests forms the basis for some optimizations and major follow-on testing planned for next year. A Chinook helicopter with a larger lift capacity will initially be deployed so that the team can increase the speed in a series of steps to 90 knots, while scooping water. A final test phase as required for final certification will involve deployment of an aircraft that will scoop water at the target speed of 130 knots. Michiel Selier: “Right now we are busy with preparations for the test with a Chinook.”

    Picture: Scodev International

                                                        Picture: SONACA Aerospace

Scodev Consortium

The Scodev system is the product of extensive collaboration between the three consortium parties: 
  • Scodev (NL, initiator and project lead), 
  • SONACA (BE, manufacturer of aircraft parts) and 
  • Jacob Eschbach (DE, Germany’s biggest hose manufacturer). 
This consortium is supported by expertise from 
  • Netherlands Aerospace Centre or NLR (NL) on aircraft aspects and certification, 
  • University of Duisburg (D) on hydrodynamics, 
  • Aerovantage (NL) on aviation innovation consultancy, 
  • Associate Professor Dr. Stefano Brizzolara of the Virginia Tech University (VA USA) on supercavitating hydrofoils and computer simulations. 
The WISER Consultancy team supports Scodev to attract additional investments and to prepare for production and sales. 

The European Commission has contributed 2.7 million euros for the first phases of development.

Why Scodev

  • Forst fires annually claim hundreds of human lives
  • Forest fires cause material and financial damage in the hundreds of billions of US$ annually
  • Forest fires burn 20 million hectares of precious forests each year. It takes nature 7 to 10 years to recover
  • Forest fires contribute 2.4 gigatons to the global CO2 emissions each year. This is 30% of the annual total. Fossil fuel used for traffic, households and industry contributes 5.6 gigatons
  • Forest fires are a source of toxic combustion products causing the premature death of 340.000 people annually. These toxics are particularly harmful to children, including unborn.