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Helicopter Fire-fighting (Merged threads)

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Helicopter Fire-fighting (Merged threads)

Old 2nd Jul 2013, 09:47
  #121 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Spain
Posts: 273
...

What a tragedy!....Heartbreaking news.

It's not just the 19 (who were typically young and in the prime of life) who suffered an unimaginable nightmare at Yarnell Hill - but the after effect wounds countless people. I can't imagine the grief the loved ones are suffering right now. Words can't help them I suppose, only time will dull the pain...

I've spent many years on fires and the devotion to duty typically shown by most firefighters, the 'can do' attitude and all round 'esprit de corps' is always a great thing to be a part of. Never more so than in the US where the scale/magnitude is often at the higher end of demand on the fire crews.

I was at South Canyon CO, and this news brings it all back!
Years pass and we tend to forget those who gave everything. I am guilty of this selective memory most of the time but this truly tragic event brings it all back into focus.

I'm on fires in Europe now and our fires here are typically small in comparison. But wherever there's a fire there's a danger.
As Gordy said. 'Keep your head on a swivel' and let's all remember the next tragedy is out there somewhere waiting for us to make that one mistake. You know?...

The big One!

Rest In Peace Yarnell Hill Crew...

Last edited by 170'; 2nd Jul 2013 at 09:50.
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Old 2nd Jul 2013, 09:54
  #122 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Aberdare, Wales
Age: 27
Posts: 174
Rest In Peace Yarnell Hill Crew...
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Old 2nd Jul 2013, 17:12
  #123 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Canada
Age: 43
Posts: 83
Hi Gordy

My base machine looks just like the 206L on the videos previous page. It was bought out of the US in 2010. Fighting fires a little but mostly working in the St Elias Range out of Haines Junction, Yukon.

Yukon and Alaska have had a very hot dry spring, Lots a hardware heading north out of the wet south. Busiest fire season since 2004 I think
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Old 2nd Jul 2013, 18:18
  #124 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,738
My base machine looks just like the 206L
I know that N767H just flew up that way last week, it is in the same colors as the one in river. It is the Pocatello Helitack aircraft this year but got sent to Alaska.

Things are heating up in the lower 48 right now. I had calls this morning checking on availability of my aircraft---I only have a Jet Ranger and a Huey left right now, and suspect they may go out shortly.
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Old 2nd Jul 2013, 19:05
  #125 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,738
Here is a copy of the witness statement from the helicopter in the river--previous page. I have sanitized it for the sake of the pilot. VERY interesting reading. It is written by the USFS inspector giving the ride.

On 6/28/2013, approximately between 1230 hrs to 1300, I witnessed "Brand X" Aviation Company’s Bell 206L3, N****, crash in the Clark Fork River approx. 3.5 to 4 nm South West of the Missoula Airport (KMSO). The weather at the time was VFR, calm wind, and approximately 30*C. Below is my statement of the events with this incident.

I was conducting a flight evaluation for the Pilot, for this coming fire season. We took off approx. 1200 hrs from the Minuteman FBO ramp of the KMSO airport. We flew to the mountains SW of the airport (approx. 4 to 5 nm) to conduct mountain-flying technics and confined area operations. After completing those tasks we were going to conduct water dropping operations, for the evaluation, with a water bucket and a 150’ synthetic long line. As briefed before the flight started from KMSO, I asked Mr. Pilot to land on a large sand/gravel bar on the north shore of the river, due to aircraft performance planning, and I would observe his longline/bucket work from the ground. The landing was normal and uneventful. Mr. Pilot then exited the aircraft to prep it for bucket operations while I stayed inside the aircraft and guarded the controls. After Mr. Pilot set up the long line and bucket, we then ops checked the bucket for proper operation and then we checked the aircraft’s cargo hook twice, everything was working correctly. Mr. Pilot then re-entered the aircraft, took over the controls and I climbed out to stand on the sand/gravel bar, to be able to observe his bucket work. Before I exited the aircraft, Mr. Pilot and I re-briefed what maneuvers and procedures I needed him to perform for the bucket part of the evaluation.
The first water dip and water drop was uneventful, other than coming in a little steep and putting the control head in the water. The second water dip Mr. Pilot seemed to be coming into the dip vertically from a higher height than I would have come in, (if I had been flying), and the aircraft seemed to be settling with power for a brief moment as the bucket and control head entered the water, then Mr. Pilot recovered, and did another successful water drop. The third water dip approach, again seemed to be initiated from a higher than normal altitude to the water, and his water drop was again satisfactory. It seemed to me that he was trying to fly a little too fast thru the water bucket part of the evaluation, all water bucket maneuvers seemed to be rushed. Mr. Pilot went back for his fourth water dip, this time he initiate this approach to the water from higher altitude than the other 3 previous dip approaches. I would estimate he initiated this approach from approximately 250 ft AGL (bucket height). As he was coming down vertically, I noticed that the aircraft started to settle with power at a fairly quick rate and I knew he was in trouble. The bucket, control head, and line started entering the water rapidly, and then Mr. Pilot dropped the nose of the aircraft and tried to get out of the settling by flying forward (upstream), the bucket filled with water and became a big anchor and pivot point resulting in the aircraft to start to dynamically roll over longitudinally forward. The aircraft’s nose was in a downward angle toward the water. Then it appeared that Mr. Pilot pulled in a lot of power to try to stop his descent. At this point I could hear what sounded like the rotor RPM slow down and the engine spooling up then compressor stalling (making loud banging noises) and the aircraft spun one and a half times to the right (LTE), ending up facing down river. At about the same time as the aircraft spin occurred, it sounded like Mr. Pilot closed the throttle of the aircraft or the engine spooled down and the aircraft descended vertically into the river rapidly from about 15 to 20 feet above the water level, on the south side of the river. After that the main rotor came down and struck the tail boom just in front of the tail rotor. I ran down the north shore of the river (a lot easier written than done) until I was abeam the aircraft and Mr. Pilot. I could not reach the aircraft because it was on the other side of the river from me (100 yards) and the water was running too fast and was too deep for me to cross. I could see Mr. Pilot sitting in the aircraft and moving around. I yelled over to him to see if he was ok and he replied back that he was ok. Then he started to make cell phone calls while sitting in the aircraft, to people who needed to know of the incident. I noticed that the bucket seemed to be still attached to the aircraft, because I could see it downstream 150 ft of the aircraft, immerged in the river.
The pilot experienced three different emergencies thru this incident. He went from settling with power to dynamic rollover then to LTE, after that, is when gravity took over. The pilot was ok, but ended up with two cracked vertebrates. I asked the pilot later that day after the incident, why he didn’t punch off the bucket, he said he tried but realized he was pushing the wrong button. End of Statement.


Helicopter Inspector Pilot
US Forest Service, Region 1
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Old 2nd Jul 2013, 19:05
  #126 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Aberdare, Wales
Age: 27
Posts: 174
From Santa Fe Helitack













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Old 3rd Jul 2013, 15:42
  #127 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,738
Some more notes based upon the helicopter crash during the evaluation ride. I suspect the witness report above got buried behind Helistudents pictures... (No dis-respect, but maybe you could put those on a picture thread as they really serve no learning purpose on this thread, and basically hid an interesting report).

Anyway---this is some interesting reading. This again is from the inspector pilot who witnesses the crash.

Lessons learned and advice from the helicopter crash landing in the Clark Fork River, Missoula Montana, on 6/28/2013.

Professional Development:
When the pilot called me after he left the hospital we discussed why he didn’t jettison his bucket. He told me that he tried, but realized he was hitting the wrong button. This brings to light that pilots need to get in the cockpit every once in a while and go thru practice emergency training, and switch-ology on the ground. I call this Professional Development. We as pilots are paid by our bosses to be professionals at what we do, and we all know there is plenty of sitting on our butt time on most fires. I always made it a point to try to spend about an hour per day doing professional development with my crew, instead of just sitting on my butt and seeing what the end of the internet looked liked or playing games. We would get in the cockpit and go over run-up procedures, pre-flights, contracts, emergency procedures, etc., normally in the morning, before the heat of the day. I would recommend this practice to all flight crews, as it will only make you more proficient at what you do.

Don’t rush:
Another lesson to take away from this is to not get in a hurry when flying the bucket or other missions, and never out-fly your own limitations. This pilot seemed to be rushing thru his water dips and drops. Pilots need to remember to not exceed their limitations, we need to fly up to our limits but be disciplined enough not to exceed them or you are opening the door for mistakes and failures. An old saying from my logging days to make pilots slow down, make deliberate inputs, and improve hook accuracy was, “If you think you are going too slow, then slow down.” You will be surprised how much truth is in that statement.

Approach and set-up to a dip site:
Make sure to not come in too high and try to salvage the approach to the water source. Most of the time it is not going to work out very pretty, as it was with the result of this incident. If you are coming into your dip site and the approach is not correct, i.e. too high, just do a go around and come back into the dip with a proper and controlled approach. Remember go-arounds are free and incidents are expensive. I would much rather tell Air Attack that I need to spend a few extra minutes going around than call my boss and tell them I just bent up his helicopter.

Comfort level and pride:
The PIC has the last and final say for anything involving their aircraft. If the PIC isn’t comfortable then it is their responsibility to speak up and say so. Pilots are paid for 90% decision making ability and 10% flying ability. As a PIC, type A personality, one of the hardest things to do is turn down a mission, or say you can’t accomplish what is expected of you. We hate to accept failure and some have taken that pride to the grave. Remember, there is no mission we are asked to do that is worth dying for. It takes a very professional pilot to stand their ground and stay within their comfort level regardless of the pressure they my feel from outside sources, but in the long run, that is a pilot who will keep himself and his passenger alive and will be well respected in the industry.

PPE:
Just before we went on this flight that resulted in the aircraft crash landing in the river, the pilot and I were standing out by the aircraft going over our passenger brief. The pilot looked over and saw me wearing my PFD (Personal Floatation Device), and said; “I guess you are going to make me wear my PFD too” and I said “Yup”. I bet he was glad he was wearing it. The aircraft landed in only 3 ½ feet of water, but with the end of run- off still here, the water was running very swiftly. If you were to fall in the current, it would be way to strong to swim against. Also after standing there and watching the aircraft go from normal, to out of control flight and crashing in the river, all in a matter of less than a minute, it made me realize that there is no way anyone would have the time or means to put on their PFD after an incident sequence of events has started. I was on shore when the incident took place but I still used mine. I had to walk out to meet Rescue Personnel, and I was on an island. For me to finally get off of the swampy island and to safety, I had to forge a small river that was 3 ½ feet deep, 80 yards across and fast running water. I was tired by the time I had to cross that river and I put my PFD back on cause had I slipped on the slippery rocks, I was too tired to swim and fight the current. I figured if I slipped I was just going to pop my life vest and float down with the current until I could get to safely on a shoreline again. My take away from this is, “Always wear your PFD while doing over water operations, cause you don’t have time to put it on.” Having it near-by you in the cockpit and the thought process of, after I get in the water I will grab it and put it on, is not good enough. Plus I need mine to make sure I could make back out to safe area.

Being Prepared:
I took my cell phone out of my pocket and left it in the office before the flight. I knew it was going to be hot and didn’t want it in my pocket getting all sweaty. If I had my cell phone with me, I would have been able to call 911 and my supervisor to inform them of the incident. Also I would have been able to call the pilot in the crashed aircraft to communicate with him, instead of us yelling to each other across the river as we did. I learned to always take a means of communication with you when ever possible, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable.
Since we were going on a short flight, only about 5 miles from the airport, and I knew it was only going to take about 35 to 45 minutes for the checkride, I elected to not take any water with me. I also knew it was going to be one of the hottest days of the year so far. But what could go wrong? After the incident I was surely wishing I had brought some water with me. I ended up on the opposite side of the river from the rescue crews and the river was too far, deep, and swift to swim across. The rescue crews said, I need to walk out to a road about a mile to the north (it was more than a mile); there would be an EMT and Police Officer waiting for me there. Well the piece of land I was on was an island that was mostly swamp, thick vegetation, and 3-foot tall grass, making it very hard to walk thru without a lot of effort. It took me 2 hours to hike out in my flight suit, helmet and PFD. I was carrying the helmet and PFD, but had to keep my flight suit zipped up, and sleeves down, due to all the ticks. With the heat of the day combined with the physical exertion of walking thru that thick swampy area, I got very thirsty and exhausted. If I would have had to walk for another hour or two thru that area in that heat I would have been facing heat exhaustion or stroke, there is no doubt in my mind about that.
So the moral of the story is to always make sure you are prepared. The aircraft had a survival kit but I was separated from the aircraft with no means to access the kit. Had I only brought my cell phone and a bottle of water, I would have been much better off. Neither one of them really would have been a real inconvenience to carry.

I hope that by reading this, it will be a wake up call to some of you and we can turn this un-fortunate incident into a learning event and bring some good out of it.
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Old 3rd Jul 2013, 15:57
  #128 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
Age: 71
Posts: 16,598
Jet Rangers and water dipping with the extra weight of the Inspector along....confined areas....remind you of how careful one must be.

When I did my 206 ride like this one....I pointed out our usual dip spot....and suggested we not use it....but instead go find a wide open flat approach to a farm pond in the middle of a cow pasture with miles of clear way.

We wound up dipping.....and releasing at the same time as the old girl just wasn't going vertical even with a minimum setting on the bucket.

Reading the report....nothing has changed over time.

Granted I was in a 206B-III not an L series.
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Old 3rd Jul 2013, 16:23
  #129 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,738
I did my renewal last year in a BIII out of Morgan Helibase by Ogden, UT. Dipped around 7,500' 25*C with a 72 gallon bucket cinched to 70%----barely got it out of the water---a wind gust helped...
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Old 3rd Jul 2013, 18:28
  #130 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
Age: 71
Posts: 16,598
Now if you had just left yer Wallet back at the base you could have hauled twice as much water!
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Old 3rd Jul 2013, 20:39
  #131 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,738
Now if you had just left yer Wallet back at the base you could have hauled twice as much water!
Ha....too true, however, like most I dad pay my dues and live like a pauper for many years before I got here. One never forgets one's roots.
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Old 4th Jul 2013, 01:26
  #132 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: St Johns, Newfoundland,Canada
Posts: 330
Helicopter Fire-fighting (Merged threads)

Hey Gordy
Hope all well mate. Very sad to hear the loss in Arizona, RIP guys.

We just picked up a couple new B3's this last winter along with all ops gear. Came with the AFS Fast bucket....nice. Liking the multiple drop...no more cinching your bucket, just fill her up, if too heavy just hit the button and let a little out at a time till you can get out of the pond. Easy to pack up also and packs a lot smaller than a Bambi. Fits in basket nicely.

Slow start in Canada but things ramping up, forecasting + 30's where I am new starts today.
Be safe and have a good fire season.
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Old 4th Jul 2013, 07:58
  #133 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,738
Hey Newfie, was just talking about you yesterday....all good....

We have just one of the fast buckets....like you say, it is a dream, but too heavy for anything less than a B3 Astar.... in the L4 we actually lose capacity with it. If only they could make the smallest one a tad lighter...in line with a bambi and I would outfit my whole fleet.

We had 2,800 lightning strikes in Norcal in the last 48 hours...just not too many starts though, but July 4th is upon us....bring on the "redneck fireworks"

Be safe my friend...maybe we should plan a visit somewhere, you and yours and me & mine...? Be rude not too after this season?

Last edited by Gordy; 4th Jul 2013 at 07:59. Reason: Because one is a pilot not a spell checker....
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Old 4th Jul 2013, 09:59
  #134 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Zealand
Age: 47
Posts: 379
Hey guys, how heavy is the Fast Bucket? And what volume is that for?

Are they still making Fast Buckets? I thought that they stopped production, or was that the Waterhog?

Love the line, if you think that you are going to slow, then slow down. I got told that so many times I started using it myself....
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Old 4th Jul 2013, 18:28
  #135 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,738
SEI bought the production line--as far as I know it is still in productiomn.

Fast Bucket Specs Here
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Old 5th Jul 2013, 14:47
  #136 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: St Johns, Newfoundland,Canada
Posts: 330
Helicopter Fire-fighting (Merged threads)

Hi Gordy
Yes will really have to plan something after the season.
Things ramping up big time up here. All our machines that were sitting now out on fires, nothing left in yard. I'm just sitting on airlines en route to pick one of our B2's up, then who knows where......Be safe my friend.
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Old 5th Jul 2013, 16:57
  #137 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: St Johns, Newfoundland,Canada
Posts: 330
Helicopter Fire-fighting (Merged threads)

This mornings sit rep from CIFFC casual hire not including contract A/C
36 mediums
87 intermediate
10 light
Numbers growing by the day.....
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Old 7th Jul 2013, 10:26
  #138 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 26
Smoke effects on engine performance

This is a very informative discussion. One thing I have not seen mentioned (have not read all as yet) is any effects on engine performance caused by the constant ingestion of smoke laden air.

Our Company has 2 Bell 212s operating in Indonesia. At present there has been a lot of fires in Sumatra which has been causing severe air pollution in Singapore and Malaysia. This is a yearly problem and is often caused by plantation companies in Indonesia burning off to clear land. A lot of the forest on this land is growing on peat, which smoulders for long periods once ignited. There has been a belated reaction to the complaints from neighboring countries and our Company was approached to take part in the fire fighting efforts. Apart from the fact there is almost no infrastructure on the ground, which make these efforts virtually useless, I am concerned about the effect on engine performance and reliability of the PT6T engines.

In 1997 during an especially bad dry season, I was working for an operator with a fleet of B205A-1's. We were caught in the “Haze” as it was called, in South Sumatra and in Kalimantan, aka Borneo. This caused considerable engine related problems. There is a “tar” like substance in wood or peat smoke and this accumulated inside the compressor section of the engine and caused loss of power. It bakes on to the engine compressor components and is very difficult to remove completely. Our experience with the Bell 205’s was very high Exhaust temps and gradual loss of power, to the point we could no longer operate the aircraft. With the T53 engine, the compressor could be disassembled for cleaning by hand, however this is not possible on the PT6T-3B. In Canada I believe PALL particle separtors are fitting to 205’s which are removed and cleaned every day to remove the tar. I am not aware of any 212/ PT6 filters.

This "tar" also accumulated on the rotor blades as a black sticky coating in as little as two hours flying.

The 212 in used for fire fighting in the USA and Canada, however I believe the conditions are not the same as here. In the USA / Canada, it seems the fires are attacked very quickly after they break out, and the aircraft are mostly flying in clear air before dropping their loads. In Indonesia, the situation is usually critical before any fire fighting action is taken, and by that time the smoke haze is so bad that most of the time the pilots cannot see to fly, and if they can fly, the engines are consuming huge quantities of smoke filled air. A wind shift at night tends to bring a lot of the smoke haze back into the area where it originated, concentrating it and bringing visibility down to a few yards at times, till it clears later in the day.


If anyone is operating 212's on fires I would appreciate any comments on this subject based on your experience.

Thanks
Doc
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Old 11th Jul 2013, 07:20
  #139 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Aberdare, Wales
Age: 27
Posts: 174
Heli fire fighting going on at Mt. Charleston in Nevada.

Helicopters dropped 162,000 gallons of water on the fire on Tuesday. Air tankers carrying fire retardant are also being used to battle the blaze.
6 buildings destroyed by massive Carpenter 1 wildfire - WSMV Channel 4
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Old 12th Jul 2013, 05:38
  #140 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: the cockpit
Posts: 1,079
It was really good of the USFS supervisory pilot to put together the lessons learned piece above. I think it I simportant that we learn from other incidents before we have to try them out ourselves!

I would also like to say that I disagree with his statement on the facts of the incident, although I was not there like he was..... so I accept this may open my response up to inaccuracies. The issue I have is that he claims the pilot went through "three separate emergencies......settling with power, dynamic rollover, and LTE"

I contend that he suffered none of these and am concerned that it will be attributed to those "labels"

Settling with power (better called vortex ring) is not possible in the scenarios described... Ie that the pilot descended in control and arrested the descent when the control head was in the water. That is, that he some how entered and recovered from vortex ring in less than 150 ft. This is an almost impossible scenario in my view. Vortex ring is not solved by putting the bucket into the water, or even reducing the aircraft load by having it placed on the ground. It is solved only by shedding the main rotor vortices ingestion. A quick search on PPRuNe for Nick Lappos explanation of this will help.

Secondly, dynamic rollover did not occur, though the symptoms are similar. Dynamic rollover occurs when the aircraft is in contact with the ground, not when the load is in contact with the ground. What happened here was that the load exceeded the ability of the aircraft to lift and the pilot tried to fly away. He was not dynamically accelerated past his centre of gravity, he was pivoted by the radius if his line and centripetal force.

Lastly, he did not suffer LTE. He suffered LTA, Loss of Tail Rotor Authority in that he was pulling too much torque with reducing RRPM for the tail rotor to exert directional authority. It did not enter its own vortex ring state. Again, a search here on PPRuNe will illuminate the reasoning behind my misgivings on LTE occurring in this example.

As I said before, I was not there and may have missed some evidence but from the witness statement alone, I would offer a different point of view - not necessarily the "right" one, just a different one. And I re-iterate that his preparedness to the detail lessons for the rest of us is admirable.


Re the 212s, when I used to do that, we would compressor rinse every 25 hourly which was each second night as a min, and sometimes when time was available, we would do it every day. There is no solution to avoiding the damage to the engine and compressors unless you avoid smoke. If you cannot do that, then you MUST factor in significant wear and tear increases on the lifed dynamic items or get a very rude shock when you send them off for inspection. From memory, we would factor in at least another 20% operating cost for this type of work, and in the 212 we would pull the floor and treat for corrosion at then end of each season where foam was used.

Last edited by helmet fire; 12th Jul 2013 at 05:42.
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