Top Additional Telemetry Units (ATUs) For Aerial Firefighting Compliance

Additional Telemetry Units (ATUs) are the latest requirement for operators to meet NAFC & USFS aerial firefighting contracts. They record firefighting event data for enhanced reporting needs... The question is, which ATU is best for you?

When it comes to Additional Telemetry Units (ATUs) for capturing telemetry data and aerial firefighting events, three popular options in the market are the AFDAU-T1, Trotter DataVault, and Flightcell DZMx. These devices offer similar functionalities but also come with some unique features.

In this blog post, we will compare the key similarities and differences between these ATUs to help you make an informed purchasing decision. This will help you on your way to achieving USFS ATU compliance and securing aerial fire contracts. 

We've created a single-page visual PDF comparing the three devices - Get your free copy here. 


Key Similarities:

  1. Capture Telemetry Data and Mission Events Automatically:
    • Real-time GPS position reporting
    • Engine starts/stops
    • Takeoffs/landings
    • Bucket capacity, including volumes for each drop
    • Fill, drop-start, and drop-stop

  2. NAFC and US Forestry (AFF) Compliance for ATU Event Reporting: These devices ensure that you meet the requirements to secure aerial firefighting contracts by providing comprehensive event reporting.

  3. Interface Compatibility: They seamlessly integrate with most industry-standard load cells, hopper gauging systems, and tanks.

  4. Data Transmission and Analysis: All three devices securely send operational data through cellular/satellite networks to your TracPlus Cloud common operating platform for easy analysis and reporting. They also offer the option to log all events for later download if required.



AFDAU-T1 Key Features:

  • Calibration-free Installation: The AFDAU-T1 does not require calibration when changing to different capacity buckets, simplifying the setup process.
  • RockAIR Device Compatibility: To enable satellite-based tracking functionality, the AFDAU-T1 needs to be paired with the RockAIR device.
  • Diagnostic and Configuration Tool: AMS provides a diagnostic and configuration tool for the PC, making it easy to configure, troubleshoot, and download data logs.
  • Comprehensive Installation Manual: The AFDAU-T1 comes with a detailed installation manual covering various system configurations, ensuring accurate event detection and calibration.
  • Rugged and Compact Design: With a small footprint and a weight of only 0.2kg (0.44 lb), the AFDAU-T1 is designed to withstand challenging environments.



DZMx Key Features:

  • All-in-One Communication System: The Flightcell DZMx is a compact communication system that provides global voice (cellular & Iridium satellite), messaging, data, and tracking functionalities, meeting ATU/AFF compliance.
  • Third-Party Integration: The DZMx integrates seamlessly with third-party fire tank controllers and other external devices.
  • Enhanced Operational Communications: In-cockpit Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enable improved communication capabilities.



Trotter DataVault Key Features:

  • Single Component Solution: The DataVault includes Iridium satellite-based tracking functionality, fulfilling AFF tracking requirements, and eliminating the need for additional devices.
  • Configurable Time-Based Tracking: Users can customize tracking transmission intervals based on their specific needs.
  • Cockpit Display and Messaging Interface: The DataVault offers a cockpit display and the option for two-way transmission of preformatted text messages.
  • Auxiliary Equipment Control: It can be configured to control auxiliary equipment such as pumps, valves, and motors with its configurable I/O cards.
  • Small and Rugged Design: Weighing 1.8kg (4lbs) and with dimensions of 188mm × 188mm × 63mm (7 3/8″ × 7 3/8″ × 2 1/2″), the DataVault is designed to withstand demanding operational conditions.



Choosing the right ATU for your telemetry data and mission event capture needs is crucial for efficient and compliant aerial firefighting operations. The AFDAU-T1, DataVault, and DZMx are all sophisticated ATUs with unique features. The AFDAU-T1 stands out with its calibration-free installation and comprehensive installation manual, while the DZMx offers an all-in-one communication system. The DataVault provides a single-component solution with additional messaging and equipment control capabilities.

Evaluate your requirements and compare these options to make an informed decision that aligns with your operational needs. To make your evaluation easier, we've designed a visual diagram that compares all three ATU devices: Get your free copy here. 

Or, for more information and assistance in choosing the right ATU, feel free to contact our team today.

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