TOKYO, 11 April 2013. Eurocopter Japan in Tokyo delivered to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) a Eurocopter AS365 N3 helicopter equipped with a high-speed, real-time transmission system using Earth-orbiting relay satellites—a world first, according to a company representative.
The avionics installation, called the Helicopter Satellite Communication System (HSA), enables direct transmission to satellites without interruption from a helicopter’s moving rotor blades, and relays data to ground receiving stations. Developed by Mitsubishi Electric Corp., its retrofit integration on the AS365 N3 was handled by the Eurocopter Japan subsidiary of Eurocopter, which also is responsible for the installation’s approval process with Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau. Seiryo Electric Corp. is responsible for the system’s marketing and sales to the FDMA.
“High-speed and real-time transmission from airborne helicopters is now a reality--available first to Japan, where the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake reaffirmed the importance of helicopters in disaster response and recovery coordination,” explains Stephane Ginoux, president and CEO of Eurocopter Japan. “With this technology now available for Japan’s disaster prevention network, the next step will be offering such capability to customers in other countries.”
The HSA-equipped AS365 N3 is expected to be operational with the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, aiding in crisis response and coordination, this month. The organization provides a wide range of services in dispatching and coordinating rescue team responses to disaster situations, and is part of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Using the HSA’s satellite relay, data can be provided from helicopters even when ground-based networks are interrupted, as well as in situations where line-of-site broadcasts are hampered by mountains or tall buildings.
The AS365 N3 is a popular helicopter with firefighting services, disaster relief organizations, and police agencies, as well as news media. Currently, 55 AS365s are operated in Japan. Eurocopter has a 60 percent market share in the Japanese fire-fighting segment, which includes operations of the BK117 helicopter, developed jointly with Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries.