Insitu, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company, has taken off with its ScanEagle drone to aid firefighting.
The company has been helping firefighters combat wildfires in Oregon by providing information for fire suppression activities via its data collection, analysis and delivery capabilities.
Comprised of aviation professionals, Insitu’s Mobile Response Team has been operating its ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System to assist manned aviation firefighting teams battling wildland fires.
A UAV team working on a fire consists of a vendor flight crew, as well as federal personnel who work together to meet the incident goals and objectives.
The ScanEagle teams fly the UAS at night and over dense smoke and inversion conditions, when manned aircraft typically are grounded due to hazardous conditions for pilots. The ScanEagle team to date has logged more than 200 hours of night flight time during nearly 30 flights over the Garner Complex and Taylor Creek fires in Oregon.
The payload onboard the ScanEagle includes infrared sensors and electro-optical cameras that gather and disseminate geospatial imagery, and provide incident perimeter maps and full motion video. The sensors and cameras spot heat signatures, fire movement and spot fires, and provide video feed of critical infrastructure, historical buildings and other structures that might be in danger, as well as identifying safe ingress and egress routes for firefighters.
“Above all, our main mission is to help combat these unrelenting fires and help keep the firefighters, the residents and the communities safe,” explained Andrew Duggan, vice president of Insitu Commercial.
“One of the benefits of flying UAS over difficult and rugged terrain is mitigating the need for firefighters to physically walk it when locating and extinguishing hot spots,” he continued. “By flying UAS at night, fire incident commanders have the advantage of significant fire intelligence and heightened situational awareness for their early morning planning meetings in determining where to most effectively and safely dispatch their resources and personnel.”