USA — EMS Aviation, a division of mobile connectivity leader EMS Technologies, Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!elmg/quotes/nls/elmg (ELMG 16.60, +0.05, +0.30%) , announced today that its flight-following technology shared the spotlight with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger May 3 as he watched a real-time demonstration of the state’s new aircraft tracking system technology. The governor also signed an Executive Order mobilizing the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to be prepared and vigilant as the state approaches peak fire season.
EMS Aviation has delivered 20 of 66 Automatic Flight-Following (AFF) systems to CAL FIRE, and 17 systems are in operation. CAL FIRE plans to equip its fleet of 53 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft with AFF systems by June, according to Chief Del Walters, CAL FIRE director. EMS Aviation is the world’s leading provider of Iridium-based voice and tracking systems for aircraft.
The governor told an assembled crowd that equipping the CAL FIRE fleet with flight-following technology is one way the state will maximize its firefighting capabilities. “We need every tool at our disposal. This year, for the first time, we will employ special GPS technology to track aircraft for more rapid and efficient response to wildfires,” he said. “We will not be caught off-guard or under-equipped.”
Walters agreed that the EMS Aviation systems help CAL FIRE deploy its firefighting aircraft more efficiently. “Not only will we know where the aircraft are, we’ll know where they are in relation to an emerging incident, so we’ll know the fastest tool to dispatch.” On average, CAL FIRE responds to 5,000 wildfires a year. Last year the agency responded to 7,000 incidents.
EMS Aviation is already a key provider of AFF services for the firefighting, offshore oil and emergency medical service markets.
“We believe having the latest in tracking technology will be increasingly important as states like California see intensified and extended fire-fighting seasons. We hope to build on this strategic relationship with CAL FIRE to showcase how real-time position-reporting can help other states and countries manage their fire-fighting resources effectively,” said Nim Evatt, vice president and general manager of EMS Aviation.
When an aircraft is equipped with AFF, dispatchers are regularly updated on its position and flight status, and no pilot action is required for the AFF to function. Reporting intervals are generally every two minutes but may be customized based on operator preference. Flight data is also recorded, and the information collected is instrumental in case of an accident or incident. Aircraft must be equipped with AFF in order to be considered for government contracts in the U.S. and Canada. The EMS Aviation solution is affordable, meets all Forest Service requirements and features flight-proven hardware.
EMS Aviation has more than 4,500 Iridium-based communication systems flying worldwide.