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quarta-feira, 4 de janeiro de 2017

Why Aerial Firefight in Portugal is a Business?

The "Força Aérea Portuguesa" (FAP - in inglish; Portuguese air Force), was in the direct aerial firefight in the 80s, but suddenly in the last decade in the XX century, the two MAFFS 1 system were stopped to be called. Privates were hired and without orders FAP maintained one of the MAFFS up until doesn't exist no more pieces. With the air force dropped from this mission by politicians the private contrats and the acquisition of helicopters up the contrats, in 30 years to more than 400 millions of euros. But the summer fires increased also in this time, a lot. So, is time to analyze what is up in this nation, not only about aerial firefighter tankers, but also the forest, politicians, firefighters, civilians and the midia speak and think about fires and all what is around, with also contracts up to 2018, police investigations and a process in court about an old contract with a company that made aerial firefight in past. One of the main reasons is that in 2016 Portugal is half of the european burned forest area. 

Fig.1- The C130H from FAP (Força Aérea Portuguesa) uses the MAFFS 1 in the 80's. Was used retardant but the MAFFS also use water. The politicians or FAP never explain why was abandoned in the 90's. 

When in the 80's Portugal buy two MAFFS system to C130H the intention was to used in adiction to firetankers rent since the last years of the 70's. It was not a pacific decision becouse of the "chapers" system in the nation, were is complicated that Defence and Interior administrations work one with another and also about some operation personel in Air Force who don't want to do that type of work and Police/Firefighters from MAI (Ministério da Administração Interna or Interior Administration) who don't like to see the military in this área. So, and for me, without a good reason, by the 90's MAFFs were without use and C130H were off the Firefighter summer device. It is ridiculous to analyse if the major responsibility were from Portuguese Air Force or the system between FAP  and firefighters commando. It was a political decision. If the politicians don't have taken C130H and MAFFs from the fire the military and fire department were still using. Maybe not much, but was we can see with FAB (Força Aérea Brasileira) the MAFFs from 2008 to 2011, was used three times. Yes, MAFFS is an emergency system not for use in every fire. But when it does, it is for me and other people, effective enough and it gives a strog justification to exist in a Air Force cargo plane.  

Fig.2 - The American Fleet in 2015/2016 of aerial firefighter tankers. All private and with contrats with the american governement, but with the support from armed forces if necessary. And all years it is necessary the help of military.

The americans have their contrats with civilian air tankers and US Military Forces, and the last ones don't have specific planes like Fire Boss or Canadair (Bombardier now Vicking) to aerial firefighter. But all their forces have preparation and equipment to help the civillian fleet when the fire is out of control. In Portugal the Governement of Eng. Guterres (Yes, now UN Scretary) with in time Minister of Central Administration António Costa (now prime minister), brought to country 6 new Kamov Ka32 and 4 Ecureuil and make another "Air Force" to aerial firefighter call EMA (Empresa de Meios Aéreos) supported by MAI, but with no contrats with Kamov or other russian company to give maintenance. When FAP and Portuguese Navy were the only helicopter operators in Portugal (the portuguese army had the structure and means but UALE - Unidade Aviação Ligeira do Exército, never had a single helicopter), the creation of EMA was a big mistake and see like more "Jobs for the politician boys". Nobody in their  administration now what is to administrate a company for aerial service and that was not the only problem, since several figures see this new "public service" like a mean to earn lots of money, in the process of winning service contrats to the fleet. The result was that Kamovs and Ecureuils were always with problems and some years later started to have acidents. Today of an original fleet of 10, and after more than 100 millions in contrats, only 6 are in conditions and it is normal that a single Ka32 flew.

Fig.3 - A Fireboss is a cheaper and very good mean to suppressed fires (about 3,25 millions usd ). The utility for armed forces is for me like the non combatent ships from the navy (see Viana do Castelo class patrol ships), in missions that goes from surveilance to SAR (with SAR kits), and others could be reality with other sensors and equipment. But i respect the "other way" of military material with a seccond purpose of being an aerial mean of firefighter. 

So, it was only a bad political decision that resume in less than 20 years a good fleet to this piece of crapp? No, was much more than that. In reality was lots of bad politic decisions, corruption, the portuguese army, air force and navy "chapels", business of private and state employers, incompetence and the dream that MAI have about is own "Armed Forces" (in Portugal the president is the supreme chief of Armed Forces but GNR and other police forces are administrade by MAI). Of course, after each year of fire in Portugal, this reality and the "aerial fire bussiness" are always subject of midia, writers, analysts, armed forces and firefighters personel, "coffee" people and all a bunch of idiots that think they now becouse "do this or do that" (but without a brain to think), have interests in this matter, "Pot Advocates", corrupt individuals, hard "trading cards" and  of course, "professionals" of aerial private tankers. In this year, like i say, fire was especially violent in Portugal and with civil society sick of this fire shit thing that it happens all fucking summers, they started to mobilizes and petitions like one delivered in Belém and S. Bento last August by an anonymous citizen (to that FAP return to active aerial firefighter), was an example of some important manifestations (that later we will return). Also everybody write about this, and not always correct. And when that happens the mobilization to keep the business is also intense, with jokes like former ANPC number one or private pilots from the area, selling the idea that know everything (the laws of phisics don´t exist to them, you know?) or that their reality is universal (for example one professional pilot in facebook, first he defended that Pumas helicopters are bad for firefighters because "they do", than Swiss Air Force that have the Super Puma only uses them "to the picture", and last said that "Swiss have no fires". But like you see: ), they have and are alert. An authentic carnival out of season, is Portugal.

Fig. 4 - As 350 Ecureuil acident from company Everjets (privates have good contrats with insurance companies, so the helicopter in the acident was just after substituted by a new one. In two occasion with EMA there was no insurance so the helicopters were lost) This is a risk mission and all the personel, private or military should be high training. For me the best way of aerial firefighter is a mix between the armed forces and privates. The model, for the portuguese reality is the american but spanish is also good. All are better than the one that the have today beeing the worst when EMA was in operation.

Back to facts, it was clear that in first years of EMA the MAI  helicopter fleet was a problem in lots of areas. Since operation, to maintenance, through budget, all was a nightmare. But the process who it led to EMA and operational base in Ponte de Sôr, was in fact a circus inside de portuguese carnival. Nobody wanted the Pumas from Portuguese Air Force (FAP was bought the EH101 Merlin so Pumas were placed avaible), since MAI, ANPC to UALE (Army air Force), it was a problem to have an Base to EMA helicopters because Army and Air Force wont gave away their structures and the result was to use a civilian aerodrome with 8 Millions of Euros (some sources talk about 11 millions) spent in the necessary work to accommodate the fleet. 
But in Portugal is normal that a process or the whole operation in the first years, were not analyzed. And this started with the MAFFS use in the 80s and continued about MAI fleet, private contrats, poor Kamov and Ecureul use and also litle participations of FAP in the indirect firefight support (with C295 used in aerial control platform and Al III moving GIPS and firefighter teams to fire areas). We will be by parties about this: 
First, when the politicians in the 90s remove FAP from active aerial firefighter no one analized how MAFFS and C130H were working with Firefighter Command, ANPC or MAI. Without FAP, MAFFS and C130H more privat means could come, as they did. And that was the main reason to stop the C130H/MAFFS, all the rest is crap.
Fig.5 - Bombardier (now Viking) Cl 415. One of the best planes for aerial firefighter mission but with a price of aquisition up to 30 millions Usd. Again we are talking about a plane that can do SAR, Patrol, Surveilange and other missions, but when the budget for FAP light helicopters are 20 Millions of Euros, have 2 or 3 Cl 415 it is like a "mirage".

C130H/MAFFS were in Montijo Air Base, about 10 minutes fligh to Setúbal city, and in the 90s a big fire it happens in Arrábida protected area (2 km from Setúbal) by the morning, and as far i know aerial tankers are not avaible and only by the later afternoon they arrived. MAFFS recharge in less than 20 minutes and with about 10 minutes fligh gives a discharge at least each 40 minutes (with all the stuff, top a one discharge in a hour). In a hot day, without wind, you tell me if a MAFFS in a C130H was not useful! No one used, no one explain why, and the fire who started in a farm area, was in the afternoon at the top of the mountain. The FAP at that time had 6  C130H and one MAFF active (the other since they were 2 in the 80s, was given pieces to the the active one). More than 40% of the Protected Area burn in this fire. 
Portugal was the only nation with MAFFS that abandoned the system, no one did like the portuguese authorities that left the MAFFS in an hangar, without give to FAP any instructions about what to do. FAP manage one of the system t'ill end of the 90's but it no spares and hope that FAP will back to active firefighter, the MAFFS were send to junk yard. By that time USAF was in use of the MAFFS like FAB in Brasil. In 2008 US Forest Service begin to used the MAFFS 2. And Portugal was no plans to C130H, C295 (a similar system was tested, but there's no certification i think) or Kc390 (there's an image in the net with a aerial firefighter system, but it is only this that we now), with some type of aerial system to make them an aerial firefighter tanker.    

Fig.6 - Berivev 200 it is also a possibility. Faster and with more water capacity again have the price and two minor acidents in Portugal against. This year (like in others), the Portuguese governement actived a protocol with the russians and they send the Beriev.  

This 2016 summer was hot. But at least since 2012 that the question about aerial firefighter tankers and contrats are in the Midia (but only in May, lol), with the main problem being the Kamov fleet. One or other year with fires above average and the subject is everywere, but only about two years ago contrats and FAP are again a regular subject. In December it's Chrismas and no one talks about fires in Portugal anymore (t'ill next May). The last news about it in Portugal was last November 10th when the MAI said that is making another comission to study the FAP return to aerial firefighter, but only with new Aeroplanes and Helicopters  (2017-2018 at least but 2020 is more logic). So, back to zero square. Or not. At least we now today that a fleet with means like Air Tractor, Fire Boss, Beriev 200 or Bombardier Cl 415 is not an option for MAI, MDN and FAP. Probably the new air cargo and new helicopter will have a second mission of aerial firefighter tanker, and the system use in Croácia or Spain will not be follow in Portugal (but elections are in 2019, so there's a chance that who follow have other ideas). 
I like the american system (privates and Armed Forces in backup), but i think for example Spain and Croatia have also a good system and fleet. The question about means only for firefighting is for me a false problem, because today a CL 415 can make also SAR and Patrol, like a Kamov can do also transportation to GNR special forces or medical evacuation. Even a Air Tractor could be a Fire Boss (both models have a huge number of missions that could do).   

Fig. 7 - The contract of Heliportugal with EMA, was for many years the principal flag of the company. Is not clear why PSD/CDS governement stop this contrat to sign another with Everjets in 2015. The investigation to all this contrats is still runing in justice.

But with the hot and fires come the stupidity. 2016 is a year with lots of idiots "came to town", with studies, reviews, midia comments and "politicians without brain" associations (and surprisingly we still go in the middle of November, so...). May is the moth were the circus biggin, with the reporters ask the same question year after year: "is there going to be a reinforcement of aerial tankers to this first or seccond fase (called Charley, Bravo, Bekas or Eggas, what the fuck...). If theres a contrat sign (this one since 2015), the aerial device it is what the parts have agree. Simple. After all we are watched by European Union in all the financial mater and is now clear for someone in this area that rent a single helicopter in this fire time, is at least two times more expensive that buy him new (cartels, unclear business and limited number of companies and means, area the responsable). 
Other question is always: " FAP will participate this year in the aerial structure?" Well, it is a trick question: The Portuguese Air Force since the MAFFS in the 90's doesn't have aerial means of direct aerial firefighter, but is possible and for me a positive thing that participate indirectly, with 1 Al III helicopter to carry troops or firefighters to any point, and a C295 from fishing manegement and naval patrol, to make an aerial control outpost (like FAP made in several years). Of course are always idiots that think for FAP it is not positive to participate in any way (direct or indirect), but to the moral,  the people and also for midia this is better than nothing. And also positive that more Al III and C295 were used not only 2.   

Fig.8 - Cl 295 from FAP is capable of firefighter and forest surveilance. In last years make also from aerial comand post to firefighter units and comunications. This is only one of several examples of FAP in a non direct aerial firefighter.

For the direct aerial firefighter, FAP doesn't have formation or means (in practise). But is true that some FAP pilots make their vacation making aerial firefighter, and that lot's of ex pilots do this job in private companies, that sometimes use helicopters like the ones that FAP had or still have (so theory, is a little bit diferent). Confused? Well, in Portugal we are like this. 
Anyway, the question that Midia make in April and May are most of the times, about Kamov and Ecureuil fleet of MAI (they don't care about the rest). Only in years with lots of fires, is that FAP "come to dance". why? Incompetence. In nations like Austria and France (Civilian Protection) used Al III with a B. Bucket against fires, in USA all the ranks fight fires and all have private contrats with civilan tankers, planes and helicopters.  Portugal uses Al III for 43 years and i never saw one with a B. Bucket. The Super Puma is used by Suisse Air Force, in Portugal we have 12 Pumas  (with Super Pumas engines) "in a box". And there´s no need to talk again about C130H/MAFFS.
It is true that in last years the Army was in action, in the cleaning and organization of the forest. Also the anti-fire patrol and sanitarium help (like in Madeira Island this year), were made by this force (the Marines were also used), but even with the addiction of FAP in not direct firefighter combat, it seems so few (also GNR have the GIPS), in an armed forces of more than 20 000 military.  

Fig. 9 - The C295 as also tested by Airbus in the direct aerial firefighter. Is a possibility to the transportations fleet of C295 (7 units) of FAP. But for now only in some people minds.

The MAFFS are since de end of the 90's in junk yard, the C130H are now only 4, the Al III about 6 (and maybe more  other 6 in fly conditions), and i never saw a Merlin aerial tanker (in theory is possible, but...). There's the system for C295 in a test trial and most likely if it is certificate, is the best choise to a fast return from FAP to direct aerial firefight. Again in theory it is possible to give formation to Al III pilots with b. bucket, but the model will be retired by 2018.  Back to Merlim and C130H, there are also problems with lack of staff and in maintenance, so with is not a possibility, even in theory. Back to Al III, a formation to give pilots certification to aerial firefighter in 2017/18 it's short (if the model were in service for at least 4 years, that will be better for a certification), and no one have an idea what helicopter will replace Al III. So, it is true. In pratice FAP was no chance to in a short period fight aerial fighters.
The last option of passing Kamov and Ecureuil to FAP or UALE, for me is the best one with more means, pilots and money, doesn't have the agree of army or air force. MAI is also not interested, and in true theres a contract with Everjets company that only ended in 2018/2019. The former MAI ended a contract with Heliportugal several years ago, and the company sued the Portuguese state for more than 100 millions.
So, today there's no options. Best hypothesis is in 2020, with the new helicopters, the C295 or the MAI fleet by a miracle to be integrated in armed forces. State, MAI, MDN, midia and population talk about it, but there´s always resistance. Or the military, or the anfibious lovers, or the "experts", those interested in everything staying the same, etc, etc, will be against. It's live.

Fig.10 - A Black Hawk from US Army uses a Bucket to full him with water. The privat means are never enought so all armed forces have formation to aerial firefighter. Agian, it is a model that can be good to Portugal. 

The MAFFS is a good example what i'm talking about. "Experts" see problems everywere with the system use on a not anfibian plane, the coast, the material (water or retardant syrup), conditions, recharge time, etc,etc, are all questions against the MAFFS and over and over again subject of debate. Ridiculous. This is a system used in emergency, when there´s nothing more, when privates doesn't have tankers and it is not possible to rent more. Used when weather and wind conditions allow, but for 1 milllion of euros (the coast of a MAFFS 1 pay by Portugal in the 80's) what you expect? Any helicopter or plane is two or tree times more. The wheels problem? See USA! If there's a base near everywhere, from private to Army, Marines or Air Force were is the problem? Yes, Portugal was less aerial bases than lots of nations, but it is a small country. How much time does a Air Tractor make to do 100 km to 150 Km? Or a C130H to do 800 km? This is not Australia or Russia. So,time out the fire front is not so relevant because in top are a couple of hours (this to an C130H with MAFFS from Montijo to North of Portugal or the Islands). For a Fire Boss "scooping" some distance or Air Tractor landing a small base near the fire, we are talking of minuts (10, 20, 30, all less then an hour).
But lets talk about "scooping".    

Fig. 11 - Portugal had about 147 Aloutte III. In more than 40 years of operation i never see one of them making this. Today we have about 6. This one was from French Civil Protection.

Scooping are the areas were an amphibian aeroplane can reload is tanks full of water. In Portugal (like in any nation) the scooping areas are variables, taking into account the type of plane and his capacity. Of course this is important in the country but as i said before, this is not USA were see is thousands of km from the interior, we don't have desert areas and lack of water is only on two or three  regions. The use of Beriev 200 and Cl 415 demonstrade that the areas were amphibian can receve water without land are very important (Fire Boss is much smaller so there are more scooping areas), and in case of the first at least two incidents take place because of incorrect charts (the last one in 2016 summer). Portugal doesn't have a big struture of airfields, scooping and logistic areas for aerial firefighter (in this year the Cl 415 and Beriev 200 were placed severel days in Montereal, the house of the F16, because of the fires in the center of the country), but nothing that some millions  in construction wont resolve (Ponte de Sôr and is costs are one of several examples). So, at least for me Cl 415, Beriev 200 or Fireboss, all will have aplication in Portugal, and the prove is that is last at least 20 years, they were very usefull to this nation in the hands of privates or with friends governments and others that Portugal have assistance protocol, like Russia. And if the problem with the "wells" Air Tractor is not a real problem in the actual structure and we are talking about a plane that can land in a small area, remains to speak about the helicopters.
Fig.12 - An Swiss Al III with the B. Bucket. I don't care if the helicopter was the righ on to the task or not, but they used him. I guess one of the reasons becouse there was no problem to buy the sucessor was this one. Portugal still has the Alouette III.

The geography of Continental Portugal give to the Helicopter the most important rule in firefighting and medical evacuation, because there is significant space to land and to make permanent or temporary bases. With water and fuel near by, without a need of a big aerial base and with the experience of years of war using light and middle weight helicopters, that machine makes sense that will be the spearhead in a variety of aerial functions even before all types of aircraft. I suposed that when the ANPC fleet was buy the intention has that, but the problem was that all the rest as wrong and the result was to much money spent in crap and a bunch of helicopters that only half are in fly conditions.
First ANPC doesn't need a fleet. Without armed forces only medical evacuation make sence to have helicopters. FAP, NAVY and UALE (20 years without an helicopter and still runs), should provide part of the means to police, firefighter, ANPC and others in a special situation (like MEDVAC).  MAI also may use Armed Forces material but i see some logical in a small number of helicopters (i don't think they need but it gives some independence to police), manage and with assistance from military.
But back to aeial firefighting, the Puma's case are one example how bad things are made in Portugal. We are talking about helicopters who were from war but they were 3 times modified since the 70's, with Super Puma engines, radar (was made to lauch exocet, that Portugal never buy to France) and structural re-enforce.  When FAP bought the Merlin, nobody wanted Puma's. Ridiculus is that UALE to this day doesn't have one single helicopter (again, for more than 20 years!!!), and that since the last fligh of 5 Puma's in 2006 all of them are in Beja Air Base without any use.  Then the Ka32/Ecureuil to EMA, when UALE had a struture, pilots and a base in Tancos, first to Ec635 and then to Nh90, two helicopters that never were used by Army, because political and budget problems.

Fig.13 -  A Puma helicopter from SAAF uses the bucket. Good or bad for the task, several air forces use the Puma's and give aerial firefighter formation for their crue.

Then the service problems with EMA fleet, for those to operate with helicopters or truks was the same, because they don't have an idea what it needs to mantain 10 aerial machines 3 or 4 moths in a single year. Funny is that the "gigs" who talk about FAP, C130H and the MAFFS use (to blaim FAP the most of the times), are in silence about EMA, the helicopters, service, organization and other stuff talked a few chapters ago.
When a fleet of 10 helicopters had less than half in fly conditions, 2 were lost and only one is possible to be "saved from the hangar", what is wrong? Let's face it, how the hour fly cost is above 35 000 euros to a KA32 (more than the 31 to 35 000 USD of the F35 fighter!!!).  Why, helicopters with about 10 years of operation are with problems, since de structure, to the interior, passing by other components? Lots of people say to sell them. Sell them why? In Korea three instituctions have them in service (including Korean air Force), they used to several missions including aerial firefighter, and the Kamov from forest service and Korean Air Force were in 2015 prepared to fight aerial firefighter at nigh (the Korean have acess to all american helicopters, but prefer the russian one to this mission). so it's a Portuguese problem not a type or other nations problem.
The truth? Aqquisition of EMA fleet and his subsquent mantenance made rich many people but to taxpayers was and is still is a nightmare. If Puma's and Aloutte III were used, the service with spares and motors were with 30 to 40 years of experiênce in the country, and even in UALE or MAI, FAP have been call tho give the formation. If they were used by FAP, better, because we see problems in the use of Merlin or Lynx (is from navy but based in a FAP base), but not the ones with Kamov and Ecureuil. Service with the factory and russian or french personel were never made in EMA, and in all private hands, was the minimum. So, the result is what we see: More than half of the fleet doesn't fly and the money is still going.

Fig.14 - In USA old planes have new missions. In this case an P3 was converted to aerial firefighter tanker. In Portugal is always a problem to do so. We prefer to sell them to scrapp like we will do with the Pumas. 

In conclusion, if this year was not a hot one, if the fires doesn't burn in Portugal like in a "Greak tragedy", all this matter will be the same in the last years (forgot, was he said). But is still more complex that just the aerial firefighter. First the prevention that is a mirage in this nation, is made one or two moths by year and of course its a zero result. Then, the state that is the owner of 56% of the forest doesn't now (they think that only 10% are public and the rest private). In fact 10 to 20% of forest area are public and state doesn't now were it is. So, how can you made prevention of land we doesn't now is yours and where it is? And prevention in protected areas? The portuguese law is heavy when a land owner cut forest in a reserve. But the objective of this article is not to talk about Portugal and the country forest, so we speak a few only to bee seen the shelf that the territory (and other stuff), is in this nation.
Prevention and all is mesures is only possible when we know the land and is owner. About privates, he have the knowledge that species in forest like pine tree and oak is replace by eucalyptus, a tree to timber and cellulose companies not for the environment, with the government doing nothing. When the fires came, all the growend conditions (not to talk about interests established), are great to a catastrophe (as he see live year after year).
But even in a organized forest we need means to combat the fires, in land and air. And is this last one that we are talking about in here. Again, see the american way, it makes sense to Portugal, give FAP an active place in this area when theres an emergency, and the privates have their place too, for the forest, the people and more important, the country.   

Fig.15 - US Forest Service is an example of the way the things may be. The airtankers of C130 from USAF, NAVY, MARINES or COAST GUARD are avaible in case of need. When there's no more private means to a fire, goes the Hercules with MAFFS. And USA is so big that have forests like in Portugal up to 40 times in diferen states. 

Again and for me, i prefer the "american way", but also the "spanish way" is acetable. It is better a fleet of helicopters and aeroplanes that are in FAP (or UALE or GNR, but i prefer the first), make the operations in a full year and in "fire moths" give a help to the privates, in a contrat make with the State like Us Forest make with american federal governement, A fleet of helicopters and aeroplanes, like Kamov, Cl-415 (or Cl-215), Beriev 200, Fire Boss and Air Tractor have utility in the rest of the year, from SAR to MEDIVAC, but i know that they aren't military means. And there's always the danger of a fleet that the State give to FAP with some money and means, but by two or four years, said that the money will be from the FAP anual budget (a big risk to means, fly hours and FAP integrity). Military means don't have this problems and are better accepted by the militaries (that is important to, in a nation with lot of scrap by lack of use). Means like Beriev or Bombardier (Canadair) are better for civilians, that understand and see the concept of aerial firefighter tank more easily than military means (except the C130 with MAFF). In fact planes and helicopters are necessary and complement each other, so the mix between civilian and military component is the key, in operation and against corruption and abuse of public money. And the EMA and aquisition of Helicopters for ANPC was a good example of that crap use.
When a new identity emerge with no experiênce, were lots of people were from Political Parties, when a significant number of contrats and construction worth millions, of course it's a magnet to crime, waste of money and resouces. If this aerial means were given to FAP, UALE or GNR, with of course, more people and a better budget, were the helicopter was a agreement between services and politicians, no doubt that the use were at least 50 to 60% every year, not 30, 40% or less in a 3 moths fire season. And the "budget deviations" way less, surely. State aerial means should be, for me, in FAP (it has the experiênce and all the means), with a proper budget and with the righ number of pilots and ground crew. I don't care if the planes and helicopters are like in USA or Spain, what i know is that the Portuguese forest, besides preventions, anual cleaning, surveillance, forest guards and firefighters (etc,etc...), needs also public aerial firefighter means.

Fig- 16 - A Mi8 used by an private company in Portugal. Like the KAMOV is also a Russian model. The debate between if is better privates or public is a crap. Public means in FAP and privates with their own means is the solution with a good oversight from state. Most of the time this is a problem but Portugal was to deal with and make fiscalization capable.   

Also important is the surveilance. From light means to UAV, all them are crucial to Spring and Summer, and again FAP as the personel and equipment to do it in Tancos air Base. Of course there are also good UAV made by portuguese privates companies, but why there's no contrats with the state and MAI, of none of them? Again, all that matters is the privates aerial firefighter means and only in a small scale FAP and private UAV's enter in this strong financial area.
And Media? Talk only a little, with bad information, much confusion and 3 to 5 moths in a year. So, is the public, and the civil society (at least the part who cares about this things), that should be important for pull the Media interest about this theme and to send the message to the politicians: "we want public military means in the aerial firefighter every year". Petitions and blogs, articles and public interventions (in the Media, but also with people, face to face)  is the way, not also to this tematic be talk everytime but also to increase the poor armed forces budget (about 1% of the PIB), to have more means and man, not to be in the base but on the service area. The population is with the Armed Forces (in a university work that i made in 98/1999 more than 54% support a bigger budget to man and means if they were used also to civil operations), and if they see FAP with their planes and helicopters, in medical evacuations, surveilance to fires and active aerial firefighter combat (with a good publicity in the Media), more easy will be the replace of Aloutte III, C130H, Falcon, etc.
And i´ve done my part,  in signing petitions, talk with people and with this little personel article, to that public means by FAP (UALE or GNR also is accetable), will have direct paticipation in fire season. Good or bad, i don't care because this is what i and other people think about aerial firefight and the need of FAP to be in the first league of this major problem that inch year plagues Portugal.
Probably 2017 will be a less heat year, but the global temperature is reasing, so...

Fig. - 17 - A ligh Hiller helicopter used like a fire lighter. Again, light helicopters like the Al II were not a option to surveilance or any other task in Portugal. But for rest of the World they area an option.

Fig.18 - C130H from USAF with MAFFS 2 system. It can be full of water in 17 minutes and all the cargo be outside in less than 30 seconds.

Fig 19 - Another C130H with MAFFS 2 is tested  in land by USAF.

Fig. 20 - The EMA (Empresa de Meios Aéreos) was created with a fleet of 4 Ecureuil's and 6 Kamov. Today the company is gone and of the 10 one was lost and other had a big acident. Less than half fly and the Kamov are in bad shape (soo they say).

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