Bridger Aerospace Prepares its Full Fleet of Aircraft for 2020 Wildfire Season
Whether big or small, wildfires are one of the biggest threats being faced around the world. They are a form of nature’s rage, and occur naturally, spreading to thousands of acres of land, destroying ecosystems, burning down property, and endangering civilians and wildlife.
In 2019, the Amazon Rainforest witnessed around 40,000 wildfires, with the burn area spreading across 2,240,000 acres. Over the last ten years, the United States recorded an average of 67,000 wildfires annually. The most catastrophic wildfire damage was caused in 2018 when 58,083 wildfires burned 8.8 million acres nationwide. The figure was recorded as the sixth-largest on record based on acreage burned.
For decades, humans have been trying to gain control over wildfires. Firefighters use different tools and techniques to suppress the fires. Many of these efforts have been victorious, while the country’s deadliest wildfires have created mass devastation, resulting in the loss of live of civilians and firefighters that were dedicated to protecting people, property and the environment.
Among the heroes, Bridger Aerospace, an aerial firefighting company based in Bozeman, works ceaselessly to reduce the risk and damage of wildfires across the country.
The FAA (The Federal Aviation Administration) certified company has a fleet of next-generation initial attack aircraft that are integrated with advanced sensor technology for real-time long-range aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; hotspot detection; wildfire mapping; and geo-location. With a range of Super Scooper suppression aircraft, Bridger Aerospace provides full-spectrum wildfire management and response to help firefighters effectively contain wildfires.
Protecting Belgrade, Montana From Wildfires Using Advanced, High Tech-Systems
Bridger Aerospace was founded in 2014 by Tim Sheehy, a former combat US military veteran. He is a Navy SEAL and recipient of Purple Heart. The company is situated at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Belgrade, Montana, and has its support offices in Australia, New Mexico, Colorado, and North Carolina. Bridger Aerospace covers 30,000 square feet, which it shares with Ascent Vision Technologies (AVT). It has contracts with federal and state organizations, including the US Forest Service, California Department of Forestry, US Department of the Interior, Texas, and New Mexico’s State Fire Marshal’s offices. Bridger is the only full-spectrum aerial wildfire service provider in the US, providing initial attack aerial services to fire departments across the country.
In 2015, Bridger Aerospace ventured into sensor design and engineering, which led to the establishment of its sister company, Ascent Vision Technologies (AVT). AVT is now an independent organization that provides gyro-stabilized imaging systems, integrated solutions and software development for the defense and aerospace industries.
Since 2015, Bridger Aerospace has been integrating AVT’s technology into its aircraft to achieve exceptionally efficient firefighting surveillance systems for real-time aerial data delivery. The sensors allow Bridger to gather accurate real-time aerial intelligence with playback functionality, and real-time geo-positioning information that assists with accurate perimeter mapping of wildfires. This information is essential, helping firefighters devise plans for wildfire management operations.
Besides high-tech equipment and systems, Bridger Aerospace also operates with a strong fleet of purpose-built aircraft for initial attack operations. Its fleet includes three AC50 Shrike Commander, six AC90 Turbine Commander and four K100 Daher Kodiak used for wildfire command and control, aerial supervision, airborne and ground resource management, and aerial ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance).
Bridger Aerospace is the first company to legally fly a drone over a wildfire, operating two FVR90 used for Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. These two unmanned aircrafts are also used for real-time hotspot detection, thermal imaging, and geo-location.
The company’s fleet is completed by an A802 SEAT, two CL-215 and six CL-415EAF that are used to suppress wildfires by using targeted water bombing. Bridger Aerospace is the launch customer for the CL-415EAF, the only purpose-built aircraft for aerial wildfire suppression in the world. Six of these platforms are currently in delivery to Bridger Aerospace ready for the 2020 wildfire season.
The company has acquired four FAA certifications, including Repair Station Operators (Part 145), Air Carrier and Operator (Part 135), Remote Pilot UAS (Part 107), and Aerial Applicator (Part 137) to provide the most effective aviation services to its customers.
Bridger Aerospace’s technology is operated, maintained and piloted by a team of Montana State University engineers and former veterans of the US military. By combining next-generation aircraft with skilled and highly trained personnel, Bridger offers effective full-spectrum aerial wildfire solutions to customers around the world.
In response to the current outbreak of COVID-19, Bridger Aerospace has dedicated resources to help support Montana’s healthcare workers, patients and the community by volunteering a fleet of its aircraft for aerial transportation of emergency medical supplies. Brigade Aerospace has committed several Type 1 Air Tactical Ground Supervisor (ATGS) platforms to Bozeman Health to airlift emergency supplies that will be used to treat patients. CEO, Tim Sheehy, said “When it was apparent that the virus was going to start outstripping the local resources, we reached out to various organizations, including charities, the local hospital and other national organizations to offer our expertise in any way we could.”
Several of Bridger’s work crew have been relocated to Bozeman hospital to expedite the completion of approximately 60 hospital beds. In addition to this, blood delivery services have also been offered by the company in Montana. Apart from medical services, the company is also supporting its workforce. The company is ensuring that all its employees’ wages, both salary and hourly, are paid in full.
Bridger Aerospace is making sure that they are available for the state at this time of need. The company is not only fighting against wildfires but also against the current pandemic.