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Turbine helicopter for forest treatment

Due to different demands on the forest market, now agricultural spraying with helicopters in Brazil relies on turbine aircraft.

It is a combination of versatility and power of the Robinson 66 helicopter, with the already known benefits from agricultural aviation, such as speed, efficiency and, mainly, precision.

With the introduction of this helicopter in the agricultural segment, it is possible to maintain efficiency in liquid spraying, seed spread, and fertilizers at high altitude in mountains or hilly terrain, without the need for a runway. With the new turbine helicopter operation, it will be possible to increase load capacity, while also reducing time of application. Furthermore, it brings innovation with helicopter activities in forests, something impossible to be done in the past.

Brazil has approximately 60% of its territory covered by natural and planted forests, the second largest extension in the world, behind only Russia. However, only planted forests are processed by the industry, accounting alone for approximately 7 million hectares. These areas are mainly reforested by pine and eucalyptus species and have their production focused on the pulp and paper industry, charcoal, wood, processed wood, and rubber.

For the agronomist Nelson Barbosa Leite, nationally known as one of the greatest specialists in Brazilian forestry, today there is a great concern between companies not only about productivity, but also with the protection of forests, and the aerial application meets this demand. “It is extremely difficult, and in some cases even impossible to do the work on the ground”, concludes the expert.

Brazil has the second largest fleet of agricultural aircraft in the world, although the use of helicopters for agricultural spraying has been abandoned for over thirty years. This operation is increasingly being re-established now, bringing positive outcomes to the market. In forests, for example, spraying with an airplane is not possible in all areas: fertilization could only be done manually most of the time, which often leads to delays and product waste.

Under these conditions, the new turbine helicopter arrives in the forest industry and is solely the only model so far used for forestry services in the entire Latin America. Large companies in the eucalyptus pulp segment are now interested in the novelty because they believe they will be able to lower costs and increase spray quality. One of the singularities in the use of helicopters is that the work is done entirely in the client’s property, without the need for a runway.

In addition, the operation is supported by a truck that not only stores the aircraft fuel, water, and preparation tank, but also has a helipad for landing. Climb Aircraft Division, an aeronautical center located in São Paulo state in Brazil innovated bringing this new aerial operation to the Brazilian market. Climb is today a reference in helicopter services in the agricultural field.

The company headquarters has a Robinson certified repair station, provides pilots certification courses, as well as agricultural application services with helicopter models R22, R44 and the most newly added to the fleet: R66. For the company’s chief executive, Ramiro Leal, diversification becomes a major advantage because it manages to meet customer demands in a more personalized way.

Helicopters with piston engines were the first to be certified by the Brazilian aviation agency ANAC, intended for agricultural use. As the piston engines, the aerial application in the forest with the R66 Turbine also relies on ground technicians and a support truck.

Additionally, it was developed equipment to load solids while the helicopter is still in hovering flight, optimizing the loading time. “We look for the best alternatives in the world to deliver great solutions to the rural producers, who experience a complete and safe work,” says Ramiro Leal. Climb has already been working with the solids air disperser from Isolair, a US company that has more than 30 years of experience manufacturing helicopter devices used in fire, agriculture and forestry.

For liquid products dispersion, the aeronautical center searched for an aerial spraying equipment from New Zealand that was developed by Airlift Technologies for the R66 model. The tank and spray bars were built entirely of carbon fiber, which makes all equipment lighter, more durable, and increases the helicopter’s ability to transport more product.

Agricultural aviation can be used in all phases of forest management, also in the fight against large fires. For fire-fighting services, Climb acquired the bambi bucket, a large bucket loaded by the helicopter with the aid of a steel cable that can take water from rivers, pools, lakes, and dams, without the need to land.

The Canadian company SEI Industries, which manufactures the bambi bucket, is one of the most established manufacturers in the world when it comes to fire fighting with helicopters. Climb is also the official Brazilian representative of AgNav, another Canadian company responsible for manufacturing the DGPS system used by aircraft in the agricultural application service with greater accuracy.

With a brand new fleet of helicopters and trucks, and cutting-edge technology, Climb became the biggest Brazilian protagonist of rotorcraft agricultural aviation. If the agricultural or forestry sector was lacking in new technologies, Climb not only showed its appetite for innovation but also made clear mastery of bringing to the country the most advanced resources in the world, as well as developing national technology solutions to be exported worldwide.

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