• Posted: August 20, 2020

TracPlus and Airborne Mission Systems Launch AFDAU-T1 to Simplify Collecting and Reporting Operational Data for Aerial Firefighters


Global real-time tracking and communications leader, TracPlus, partners with Sydney-based engineering firm to launch the world’s first automatic bucket calibration and digital data collection tool – automating the collection and reporting of aerial firefighting data for NAFC contracts.

TracPlus Global and Airborne Mission Systems (AMS) have launched the aerial firefighting data acquisition unit, AFDAU-T1 – a product set to revolutionise the way aerial firefighters collect and report operational data. 

Designed to meet the National Aerial Firefighting Centre of Australia’s (NAFC) OPS-14 Standards, AFDAU-T1 is the first automatic bucket calibration and digital data collection tool for aerial firefighters. The new NAFC new standard stipulates that operators must accurately collect and report volume collected/dropped, engine start/stop and takeoffs/landings and proof of substantive flow from an aircraft. 

The product offers unique benefits for rotary and fixed-wing operators. For rotary aircraft, AFDAU-T1 removes the need for manual calibration/recalibration of a bucket, meaning that no pilot interaction is required, even when swapping buckets in a slung load configuration. For fixed-wing operators, the device automatically and accurately detects operational data for accurate reporting – including proof of substantive flow from a hopper, as outlined by the new NAFC standard. 

“Our goal was to bring a dedicated aerial firefighting data acquisition unit to the market that had been designed to meet the NAFC event reporting contract requirements,” says AFDAU-T1 Lead Engineer and AMS co-founder, Zane Vohland.

“With AFDAU-T1, operators don’t need to worry about data accuracy. They will have peace of mind that their data is reliable, automatic and accurate.” 

Vohland and his team work in alliance with NAFC to ensure the technology allows operators to meet the requirements of their contract. 

Together, AFDAU-T1 and RockAIR devices allow data to be sent and stored in TracPlus for proof of compliance and reporting. This data is also sent to NAFC’s ARENA software to allow contractors to fulfil contractual event reporting requirements.

“NAFC has followed the development of AFDAU-T1 closely and are encouraged to see this equipment become available for Firefighting Aircraft in Australia. NAFC is pleased that there is now an additional device on the market for operators wishing to fulfil contractual event reporting requirements, particularly the difficult task of reporting firefighting bucket fill and drop volumes,” says Andrew Matthews, Manager Capacity NAFC.

Aerial firefighting is hugely costly for operators, especially when they are grounded due to faulty equipment. It is the belief of AMS and TracPlus that operators deserve affordable, yet reliable, products and utilising modern technologies, AFDAU-T1 offers a price point significantly lower than current systems on the market. 

“In 2018, we started to trial the AFDAU-T1 prototype in one of our BK117's,” says established Aerial Firefighter, Jim Norrie of United Aero Helicopters. “We had been looking for an alternate and cost-effective solution to meet our contractual firefighting needs and saw the TracPlus/AFDAU-T1/RockAIR combination as a possible solution. From day one the diligent team at AMS proved successful in accomplishing and meeting our requirements. We’ve now seen one very busy fire season of data collection with AFDAU-T1 and the results have been outstanding. We are now planning to upgrade our legacy systems through the fleet.”

Fixed-wing operators have also been testing the device, which is exceeding expectations.

“Our initial results have been far above our expectations. The combination of TracPlus, AFDAU-T1 and RockAIR is cost-effective, yet offers a solution that is streets ahead of the competition. I am excited to be testing an innovative product built by leaders in the aerial firefighting world,” says Michael (Mick) Gribble, Founder of Alpine Airwork. 

For more details about AFDAU-1, visit www.tracplus.com/AFDAU. 

About TracPlus Global

TracPlus is an established tracking and communication platform of first responders, government agencies, militaries, and other critical operators.

TracPlus offers a powerful real-time tracking and communication platform that allows organizations to track, manage, message, and monitor their resources and personnel, including land, maritime and aviation assets. TracPlus has the ability to integrate with most hardware providers on the market, ensuring operators can connect with their team and partnering contractors to guarantee greater situational awareness. 

TracPlus serves more than 1,200 customers in over 44 countries around the world including CALFire, McDermott Aviation, NASA, SDG&E, California State Police, Queensland Parks and Coastguard.  Learn more: www.tracplus.com 

About Airborne Mission Systems

Airborne Mission Systems (AMS) design and manufacture specialist systems and solutions for the aerial firefighting and aviation industries. Founded by Zane Vohland and Sam Hammond, both licensed aircraft maintenance engineers, and Levi Vohland, a certification engineer, the team has upwards of 20 years’ experience installing and certifying aerial firefighting equipment into Australia’s fixed and rotary wing firefighting fleet.