Helitech 2008 has announced that it will hold its first ever live firefighting displays onsite at the exhibition venue – Airport Cascais in Portugal. The event will take place from 14th-16th October 2008 in which southern Europe is once again being blighted by forest fires. The most recent, on the Greek island of Rhodes, raged for six days before being brought under control. More than 5,000 hectares of forest and scrub were burned, along with large areas of vineyards and firefighting resources were stretched to the limit.
Last year extreme and intense heatwaves affected Greece for much of the summer with temperatures exceeding 45C (113F) in some parts. Forest fires claimed the lives of 77 people and more than 300,000 hectares of forests, olive groves and orchards were destroyed. If, as many experts say, the world is entering a new climatic era, then firefighters will face unprecedented challenges. This will in turn demand the types of new technologies on show at Helitech 2008.
In recognition of the importance of visitors to the show being able to see the latest firefighting techniques in action, the airport authority at Cascais has kindly agreed to temporarily stop all commercial flying in and out of the airport on the first two afternoons to allow the displays to take place.
Timings for the displays are currently scheduled for 17:00 hours on Tuesday 14 and 15:30 on Wednesday 15 October. Both displays are being organised and staged by Helibravo. Helibravo is headquartered at Cascais, where it operates a fleet of 14 helicopters that undertakes services such as aerial firefighting, freight transportation, external load and aerial photography. The company also runs the first pilot school in the Iberian Peninsula – exclusively dedicated to training private and commercial helicopter pilots, with the P/FTO/0603 certification. It is the only pilot school in the world to be equipped with an FNPT1 simulator for Robinson 44 aircraft in partnership with Empordef.
Helitech's Exhibition Director Sue Bradshaw says: 'To gain agreement for an aerial firefighting display at a working airport is a real coup for Helitech. It sets us apart from other European helicopter events, which are unable to offer similar live displays, and means visitors will be able to see some of the industry's latest firefighting technologies in action at the same venue as the exhibition.'
Aerial firefighting is also the subject of a one-day conference being held on the first day of the show at Hotel Quinta da Marinha in Estoril. Organised by The Shephard Group, the conference will cover helicopter firefighting technology and techniques.
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