17 February, 2017
Last January, Chile experienced one of the toughest forest disasters in its history. A series of wildfires destroyed homes and farmland in a vast area covering the southern and central parts of Chile. During this entire period firefighters were supported by at least 1200 troops and several neighboring countries provided assistance.
Vientos del Sur, an American based NGO, helped with the starter funds to buy a 747 Supertanker to fight the flames. Its creator, Lucy Ana, originally from Chile, has strong feelings about finding a way to help her country defend against the fires.
The supertanker can carry up to 19 200 gallons (or 72 700 l.) of retardant or water over a 4,000 miles (6,400 km.) distance. It is the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world. Unlike most other firefighting aircrafts that use gravity to drop water or retardant out of their onboard tanks, this is done using compressed air on the supertanker: when the pilot wants to drop water or retardant over the fires, he uses a switch to open valves that push the liquid through four large nozzles located on the belly of the aircraft using compressed air also stocked in onboard tanks. Thanks to this solution the pilots have better control of how many drops are done during 1 fly over and also how much water or retardant is dropped each time.
Vientos del Sur foundation had carried along a compressor used to refill the air tanks on the aircraft but it rapidly appeared to be too small for the job, so they contacted Atlas Copco Rental in Chile, to rent a larger unit: we immediately decided to offer an XRVS 476 mobile diesel compressor at no cost in order to take our share in supporting this extraordinary situation.
Thanks to the XRVS the loading time of the tanks could be reduced by half, going down from 40 minutes to 20 minutes: a great improvement when time is critical.
Pablo Gómez, In-Ground Logistic Coordinator for Supertanker explains: “I would say that from the very first person who assisted us to the area Manager and later all the after-sales service: everybody has been brilliant and we are very thankful for the work done together. I think the country faced a very serious emergency and you were part of the success thanks to your equipment and dedicated people.”