The second set of flight demonstrations of the 3rd of May consisted on providing a better situational awareness to helicopter rescue crew about the position of ground firefighting brigades. The prototype system, developed within Scenario 5, consists mainly of a ground portable unit given to the fire brigadiers and an airborne display mounted on-board of the helicopter. Using the first Galileo ready smartphone, the exact position of the brigadiers is continuously broadcasted through the mobile data network and then received at the dedicated on-board support system.
During the pre-flight briefing with the pilots and the fire brigade, the Galileo enabled smartphone BQ Aquaris X5 Plus was given to the brigade foreman with the adequate instructions.
The mission started as the helicopter transported the fire brigade to the point of destination, where the brigade grounded and the helicopter started with the firefighting operations. The helicopter crew had on the on-board display the exact position of all fire brigadiers on the ground with respect to the helicopter position. When, after a while, the ground unit signalled for rescue, the helicopter crew knew exactly where they where, and where they had to be rescued. Following the on-board rescue support system, the pilot flew the helicopter to the point of rescue, where the brigade was already waiting.
The come-back from the rescue mission was done through the low-level routes and instrument approach procedures developed within Scenario 3, and already demonstrated this same day.
All flights on the date were also used to demonstrate a first prototype of a management system, developed by PildoLabs under the umbrella of the Civil UAVs Initiative, that shows all units (airborne and on the ground), as well as the airspace structures of interest (routes to the base, segregated areas, etc.), in a single display. This prototype system will be used to support the decision making process of mission managers on the ground and coordinate air traffic on a firefighting mission.
In this flight campaign, the pilots and fire brigades were able to successfully perform a rescue mission in a way they had never experienced. Where people on the ground can suddenly feel trapped and need to be evacuated immediately, voice radio communications used nowadays present a localisation challenge to rescuers and ground units, especially in such a stressful and low visibility environment. Thanks to Galileo and EGNOS, 5Lives demonstrated that with the adequate equipment, the fire brigades are rescued within minutes.
All pilots and fire brigadiers where greatly pleased with the easiness of the system and the added safety to their every-day missions.