Cal Fire receives additional S-70i Firehawk aircraft with Axnes PNG Wireless Intercommunication System (WICS)

Mission Wireless Intercom innovator and leader Axnes announced today that California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) received an additional S-70i Firehawk helicopter recently with their PNG Wireless Intercommunication System (WICS) installed. This makes seven Firehawk’s delivered to CAL FIRE thus far, out of an order of twelve total. The PNG WICS features NVG compatibility, push-to-talk (PTT) and voice activation (VOX) functions that allow easy integration of the MP50 handset transceiver into their mission set, along with multiple civil, para-public and military mission profiles. 

The integration of the Axnes PNG WICS was performed by United Rotorcraft in Denver, where the S-70i airframes are equipped with mission equipment, including internal audio integration and two PNG MP50 handsets, to allow crews to operate inside and outside of the aircraft with full-duplex crew communication via wireless intercom. 

Eventually, twelve (12) CAL FIRE S-70i Firehawk aircraft will be equipped with the Axnes wireless intercom to improve crew safety, situational awareness, enhancing communications for mission efficiency.

The MP50 handsets used by CAL FIRE is housed in a waterproof, rugged aluminium case and includes a two-to-three-mile range and secure AES 256-bit secure encryption. Battery life of the MP50 handsets include 30 hours of standby time and up to 12 hours of continuous operation.

Axnes is proud to be the trusted partner for the wireless intercom technology on the CAL FIRE Firehawk program,” said Brett Gardner, Vice President at Axnes Inc. “The PNG system brings unprecedented situational awareness and safety to CAL FIRE crews, freeing them from having to be connected to ICS drop cords.” Our equipment is easy to operate and enhances their mission capabilities. Plus, PNG enables secure line-of-sight wireless communication with its full AES 256 grade encryption.”

The DO-160G (environmental-airborne) and DO-178C (software-airborne) qualified PNG WICS is integrated with the aircraft Becker Avionics DVC6100 digital intercom system, increasing mission capability and operational safety for the most challenging scenarios, particular during rescue hoist missions.

 Zach Boyce, Fire Captain and Training Cadre Member at CAL FIRE stated, “We operate our new high-performance Firehawk helicopters under very challenging conditions, so safety and crew awareness are very important to us. Axnes’ unique wireless intercom technology was essential to us because it provides excellent full-duplex wireless ICS capability, allowing seamless crew communications inside and outside of our aircraft in high noise environments. We were also attracted to their 

PNG product due to its unique adaptive noise and echo canceling technology and its “hands-free” VOX capabilities, which are vital to enhancing our firefighting missions.”   

The PNG WICS system is designed for integration into any aircraft communications suite, or it can be deployed as a standalone portable system. PNG provides robust, reliable, clear, and secure, full-duplex communications to crew members who are either wired or wireless.

About Axnes

Axnes develops and supplies advanced and highly durable wireless intercom solutions for use under harsh conditions on aircraft and other demanding applications. Axnes is well known for its successful wireless ICS solutions and today more than 1800 aircraft worldwide are equipped with their wireless technology. Axnes was founded in 1995 and is a privately-owned company headquartered in Norway with offices in the United Kingdom, Austria, and the United States of America, and worldwide distribution through its partner network. The company has been supplying its wireless intercom systems for two decades and is an EASA Part 21 and Part 145 approved quality organization. Our team is driven by the belief that producing and developing the most advanced and versatile wireless intercom system contributes to saving lives in demanding operational environments. Read more at  

Ryan Mason
Ryan Mason
Ryan is an accomplished writer and aerial photographer that has worked in the aviation industry for over a decade before co-founding AerialFire Magazine. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Ryan is a former police officer that focuses his writing and photography efforts on para-public operations and agricultural aviation.

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