The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Office of Aviation Services, seeks companies interested in demonstrating their optionally-piloted heavy lift helicopter, according to a Special Notice document released Wednesday.
The demonstration is tentatively planned for May 2015 in Boise, Ida. The exact date, time, and location will be formalized in the coming weeks and a follow-up announcement will be made at that time. In Novermber 2014, Kaman Aerospace and Lockheed Martin doused controlled burns with an optionally piloted K-MAX helicopter during flight demonstrations in upstate New York.
“This event will be open to companies capable of providing and operating an optionally piloted heavy lift helicopter in the manned and unmanned configuration,” the Interior Department said in the Special Notice. “The purpose of this demonstration is to assess the feasibility of utilizing these types of aircraft for a variety of missions, including, but not limited to fire suppression at night and during low visibility conditions as well as cargo delivery. At this time we are asking for an initial response of capable companies interested in demonstrating this type of aircraft. As part of this demonstration, the company owned and operated, optionally piloted aircraft will be asked to perform the following scenario based missions over a one to three day period:
- External load cargo pickup in the unmanned configuration.
- External Load cargo delivery in the unmanned configuration.
- Single target water dropping.
- Progressive line building with bucket.
- Water pickup from a variety of different dip sites.
- In-flight re-tasking of the aircraft.
- Multiple load delivery (carousel hook).
- Communicate with crews on the ground to identify, locate and drop water or deliver cargo to a specific site.
- Provide Real-time optical and thermal infrared imagery to the ground control station.”
The demonstration will take place in high desert and mountainous terrain similar to wildland fire conditions and environment.
“This announcement is for information planning purposes only and it is not to be construed as a commitment by the government for any actual procurement of supplies or services,” DOI officials said.
Companies interested in participating in the flight demonstrations are invited to contact the DOI by Feb.17.