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Friday, February 19, 2016

Tokyo Adds Helicopters To Fight High-Rise Fires

Look up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's actually a helicopter. D'uh.

Starting at the beginning of 2016, the Tokyo Fire Department debuted its new helicopter unit to help it fight high-rise building fires.

The Air Fire Rescue Task Forces (yes, plural) was created after the near-doubling of high-rise fires in Tokyo and the increased number of buildings higher than 11 floors.

The task forces, also known as Air Hyper Rescue, uses the Airbus H225 Super Puma, formerly known as the Eurocopter EC225.


The original EC225 was a long-range passenger transport helicopter developed by Eurocopter as the next generation of the civilian Super Puma family. It is a twin-engined aircraft and can carry up to 24 passengers along with two crew and a cabin attendant, dependent on customer configuration.

But, the helicopter has been reconfigured for the Tokyo fire department (and other fire departments around the world).

These Tokyo helicopters are equipped with Simplex Aerospace’s Model 516 High Rise Firefighting System after Simplex received FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), European and Japanese aviation certification of that model, code-named SkyCannon in November of 2015.


Japan Aerospace delivered the system designed to shoot water and foam more than 38 meters (~125 feet) from the helicopter through a 7.32-meter (24-foot) boom that can be rotated to the left or right of the centerline.

The helicopters have a full glass cockpit featuring active-matric liquid crystal displays, including:
  • four 15.24-centimeter x 20.32-centimeter (6-inch x 8-inch) multi-functional displays as the predominant instrumentation for key flight information;
  • two 10.16-centimeter x 12.7-centimeter (4-inch x 5-inch) monitors for displaying aircraft parameters, and;
  • a 7.62-centimeter (3-inch) screen for backup.
The Advanced Helicopter Cockpit and Avionics System is described as serving to reduce pilot and crew workload, being used to display flight management and sub-systems information and is complete with a four-axis digital autopilot.

During a typical flight, the pilot programs the route into the aircraft and then monitors it, as opposed to direct continuous control of the flight; the need for paper charts has been eliminated by these systems.

Under autopilot, the automatic flight control system acts to prevent pilot actions from exceeding the established flight envelope; the helicopter remains flyable with all automatic systems disabled. From initiating the startup sequence to being ready to takeoff only takes three minutes

The Tokyo Fire Department helicopter will be equipped to carry a 10-person rescue gondola. So… if you are person number 11 needing to be rescued during a high-rise fire, keep that in mind and act accordingly.

Photo courtesy of Mamo.

Somewhere wetting a kerchief and placing it over his mouth and staying low to the ground - and definitely not in a skyscraper,
Andrew Joseph

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