Volatus Aerospace, has completed its first field deployment supporting wildfire suppression agencies in Western Canada. The deployment involved the use of remotely piloted drones to gather crucial aerial intelligence for firefighters, aiding in the timely containment of wildfires.
Wildfires can quickly spiral out of control, posing a significant threat to lives and property. With a record 100,000 square kilometers of Canadian forest already burned this year, the need for efficient wildfire management is more critical than ever.
Remotely piloted aircraft provide an essential tool for firefighters to obtain real-time, actionable information about the spread and intensity of fires in hard-to-reach areas. In this recent mission, Volatus drone pilots were deployed during the night to ensure safe and high-quality data collection, minimizing the risk to airspace operations. The collected data identified potential hotspots that were not easily visible to the human eye, enabling firefighters to take swift and precise action.
Walter Weselowski, Team Lead, Special Flight Ops for Volatus Aerospace, emphasized the value of this technology: "Fires are not always burning in plain sight, they can be smoldering inside tree trunks or in subsurface locations. Operating from a safe distance, a drone pilot trained in thermography can identify and geo-locate these hot spots as well as determine whether a contained fire is in danger of reignition, providing critical information to the fire management team to aid them with planning, resource management, and assigning tasks and priorities for the day. This process is a lot faster and safer than firefighters walking through hazardous terrain surveying the fire line."
Glen Lynch, CEO of Volatus Aerospace, highlighted the growing significance of drone technology in wildfire management:
"Climate change has the potential to increase the size and number of wildfires across Canada. Drones offer firefighters improved situational awareness and the ability to investigate sites that would otherwise be unsafe for firefighters or piloted aircraft. With the current and forecasted shortage of qualified crew for piloted aircraft, we expect the demand for remotely piloted aircraft to accelerate."
Rob Walker, Volatus' COO, spoke about the company's commitment to wildfire suppression support: "We see the support of wildfire suppression to be a significant opportunity for drone technologies to make a difference. Volatus has the necessary training, experience, equipment, and crew to start rolling this out across North America."
Volatus Aerospace has been making strides in advancing drone capabilities for wildfire management. The company was granted Transport Canada authority to fly beyond line of sight and above 400 feet to support wildfires across Canada earlier this year. Additionally, Volatus pilots successfully passed Hinton GRID testing to support wildfire suppression in Alberta.
As the threat of wildfires continues to grow, the integration of drone technology into firefighting efforts becomes increasingly crucial. Volatus Aerospace's successful deployment marks a milestone in the utilization of remotely piloted aircraft for wildfire suppression, positioning drones as a valuable tool in managing wildfires and ensuring public safety.