By Juliano Oliveira
A Noosa-based manufacturer called Helitak Fire Fighting Equipment will be subsidized by the Queensland Government to commercialise a firefighting tank designed to fit onto the bottom of military helicopters. The money support comes in a wake of recent bushfires slamming many state cities.
In the company’s portfolio, it is an underbelly-style water tank designed to suit the Black Hawk helicopters. These aircraft are equipped with mechanisms and functionality proper for firefighting, including the ability to fly in most conditions and operate at night.
The Helitak CEO Jason Schellaars says the underbelly expandable tank could fill in less than 50 seconds and drop in under five seconds. “It is capable of dumping 4,500 litres of water in one drop or being dialled back so that not all of the water or retardant is dropped at once, which is very useful for controlling spot fires.”.
“By harnessing the release force of the Black Hawk bomb doors, we can drop water quicker and penetrate deeper into the forest canopy.” More than 85% of the components of the retractable underbelly tank came from southeast Queensland businesses.
The quantity applied for the government, Mr Schellaars forecasts, will facilitate the beginning of a scale-up production, creation of more jobs and manufacturing new product lines in future. “We will create five new jobs initially, and with our forecast expansion, we will need up to 50 staff within three years,” he said.
Helitak has been operating since 2006 and it exported its first tank for aircraft to the United States in 2007. Companies from the USA, New Zealand and the Royal Brunei Airforce have already expressed interest in the FT4500.