As of the 1st of September, an aerial drone will be used in the North Holland Safety Region for a trial period to detect wildfires. The drone uses its infrared camera to detect fires from the skies, among other things. The technology allows to determine the size and progression of the fire. The North-Holland Safety Region is working together with the Dutch drone manufacturer Avy and CHC Helicopters Netherlands, who are providing the operators and permits required to deploy the drone.
Over a six-month period, the three parties will test whether the use of drones in the vast dune area of North Holland contributes to fighting wildfires. “Test flights have been done before above the Veluwe nature reserve,” says Niels van Roon of CHC Helicopters. “Now we want to establish how we can get a good overview in an area with rolling dunes and what influence the stronger sea wind has.” The connection between the camera in the drone and the mobile command unit of the security region must be optimal to ensure the firefighting team can immediately obtain a good overview of the fire. Another point of research is the connection of the drone to the telecom network in the region.
Director of the North Holland Safety Region Krishna Taneja: “This is a good example of how governmental organisations and companies can work together and learn from each other. It would be great if we could use these innovative technologies to increase safety in our region.” The safety region coordinates its findings with the Netherlands Fire Service.
For Avy, the social impact is a plus in this collaboration. “With our drones, we can identify fires at an early stage, saving lives while limiting damage,” says CEO Patrique Zaman. “We are currently working on a new generation aircraft capable of handling stronger winds and where the camera is even better positioned.”
Searching for drowning victims
In addition to wildfires, the unmanned aerial vehicles can also be used to find missing persons with infrared cameras. Moreover, the cooperating parties are investigating how drones can be used to search for drowning victims. “We can assist in finding people in distress up to five hundred metres off the coast,” says CHC project leader Van Roon. “A view from above can certainly be helpful.” The goal is that, if the trial goes well, the drones will soon be stationed in the dune area of North Holland, where most wildfires occur in this region. This will allow the aircraft to spring into action quickly.
About Veiligheidsregio Noord-Holland Noord
Preventing and reducing suffering and damage, that is the work of the North-Holland Safety Region. The Safety Region does this together with residents, entrepreneurs and chain partners under the motto “helping together”. The Safety Region is dedicated to the safety of people and animals in seventeen municipalities in North-Holland: from Castricum to Texel. The fire brigade, ambulance service and 112 (the control room) are the most well-known units. The safety region has almost 1,700 employees, including 1,200 fire volunteers.
Avy is a pioneer in innovative technology with the transition to sustainable aviation in mind. Founded in 2016, the Dutch tech scale-up develops long-range drones for medical transport and firefighting services. The design of the self-flying Avy Aera reflects the refined principles of Dutch design. This aerial drone can take-off and land vertically, making hard-to-reach places accessible. The drone is capable of covering long distances thanks to its wings, making it about ten times more efficient than conventional drones. Avy’s drone network is fully electric, emission-free and operates at low noise levels. The future of aviation has arrived. Avy is currently active in the European and African markets.
About CHC Helicopters Netherlands B.V.
CHC Helicopters Netherlands B.V. (formerly KLM Helicopters/Schreiner) was established at Schiphol Airport in 1965. CHC offers helicopter transport at the highest level of service safety to a diverse, worldwide customer base for oil and gas, search and rescue, medical assistance, energy and utility companies, offshore wind farms, lifting operations or VIP flights. With the whole of Western Europe as its service area, CHC can meet any customer requirement quickly, efficiently and safely. CHC’s work ranges from helicopter services to EASA PART-145 maintenance solutions for AgustaWestland 139 and 189 helicopters (AW139/AW189), and from helicopter flight training to drone operations.