‘It’s big’: Yukon helicopter company’s new machine is ready to fight wildfires

Feb 6, 2020

Photo: Horizon Helicopters

A Whitehorse-based helicopter company is boasting a new acquisition — and according to Horizon Helicopters, it’ll be the largest heavy-lift helicopter in the North. The company owners say the main purpose for the new helicopter will be with firefighting and use in the mining sector.

“There’s really no comparison in the North right now,” says Cole Hodinski, Operations Manager and Chief Pilot for Horizon Helicopters. He says when the Airbus H215 twin-engine aircraft arrives in Whitehorse, it will be hard to miss. “It’s big … It’s 62 feet long [18.9 metres] and 16 and a half feet [5 metres] tall,” Hodinski said.

According to the Airbus website, an H215 can lift up to 4,500 kilograms. For comparison, a 2015 Ford F-150 truck weighs about 2,500 kilograms. It can also be equipped to carry up to 20 passengers.

Photo: Horizon Helicopters

Hodinski says the chopper — called a Firecat — has been set up with firefighting equipment.

“It has a 4,000-litre bucket on it, but it is also going to have a 4,200-litre tank on it. So it’s quite a punch for fire suppression,” he said.

The Firecat takes 50 seconds to fill its water tank and will be able to drop a large amount of water on forest fires with quick turn around. Hodinski says the new helicopter could also be used in other parts of North America, for example in California during the winter months. The newly-purchased helicopter is currently sitting in Vancouver. It will be flown to Whitehorse next month.

(News Source: CBC News, Mike Rudyk)