Eurocopter is seizing the opportunity of the wildfire season on the Mediterranean island of Corsica to assess the firefighting capabilities of the EC725.
In league with the manufacturer, France’s interior ministry rented an EC725 from the French air force’s 1/67 "Pyrénées" Sqdn. in Cazaux, near Toulouse. Eurocopter fitted the aircraft with a firefighting kit capable of dropping about 1,050 gal (about 4,000 l) of water. In its firefighting configuration, the EC725 also is designed to transport 8 – 10 firefighters in emergency situations.
The aircraft was positioned at the Sécurité Civile public-safety agency’s base in Bastia, on the northeast coast of Corsica. Eurocopter crews flew the EC725 from there to expand its flight envelope and test its flight characteristics as a water bomber. In a second phase of the trials that was to begin July 14 and last through this month, the helicopter is to be evaluated working in conjunction with the Sécurité Cvile’s fixed-wing Canadair CL-415 and de Havilland Dash 8 firefighting aircraft.
According to Eurocopter, the firefighting kit can be installed in the cabin and removed in less than 20 min. If the trials prove satisfactory, it said, the water bomber system could be certified by late 2007.