ROTAK Helicopter Services has partnered with Australian fire-fighting equipment designer Helitak Firefighting Equipment to develop a new mission for the Boeing CH-47D/234 Chinook as a next-generation, multi-purpose fire-fighting platform.
As a US based operator of the Chinook, ROTAK worked closely with Helitak to develop the innovative FT12K CH-47, a lightweight 11,350-liter (3,000 US gallons) collapsible belly-mounted fire suppression tank specifically designed for the helicopter. ROTAK will be performing flight testing in Q1, 2023.
The Chinook is the global leader in high-capacity available payload, the largest rotary cargo area availability and the added advantage of civilian and firefighting specific passenger transport services and emergency and medical evacuation options. Its next generation avionics and dynamic cabin layout means that in addition to dropping water, the 234 Chinook will be capable of transporting crews of up to 44 firefighters to the front lines of wildfire events.
The Chinook’s rear-loading cargo ramp and spacious cabin also offer operators the ability to quickly reconfigure the aircraft from passenger and equipment transfers to cargo hauling or medevac services. The new design will deliver the lightest empty weight of any Chinook aerial fire suppression tank and the quickest install and removal times on the market whilst also retaining the internal cargo space availability and the tank could be transported in the cabin whilst ferrying or Hook operations are undertaken.
Rotak General Manager Ely Wood said, “We are excited to partner with Helitak to adapt the dynamic capabilities of the Chinook for a new market. This turn-key firefighting platform is an industry-first and combines the versatility of the helicopter with Helitak’s innovative tank design. Our team worked with Helitak to craft a solution for the civilian Chinook for immediate deployment into fire-fighting missions across the globe, and we are extremely proud of the results that have been achieved.”
Founder and CEO of Helitak, Jason Schellaars, said, “It is a privilege to be partnering with ROTAK to certify our FT12K for the CH-47 Chinook. Building our relationship with ROTAK is a major milestone for the future of our operations and is another step towards making our tanks more readily accessible in the fight against wildfires. This build and certification of the FT12K enhances our reputation as a design team capable of overcoming the issues of fire tank construction and certification.”
This new fire-fighting platform combines the unique capabilities of the Chinook with Helitak’s robust, carbon fibre FT12K system, which can be installed or removed in under 25 minutes and is equipped with a hover pump that achieves a fill time of less than 60 seconds. The tank’s construction will be the lightest in the market and allows for greater liquid carrying capacity, which can be dropped in easily configurable patterns through integrated controls. This means that while on site at an event, the aircraft can support fire-fighting ground crews with continuous water or retardant drops.