Bell planes play critical role in firefighting efforts across Europe


Bell Press Release | November 16, 2021

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 3 seconds.

Around the world, Bell aircraft play a vital role in the ever-growing need for aerial firefighting. With the frequency of forest fires increasing each year and epidemics becoming more and more unpredictable, it is essential to secure a fleet of helicopters with the best possible capabilities to control this potentially deadly situation.

Bell 412s are used to transport water to extinguish and control fires, as well as transport personnel to critical areas for ground firefighting. Photo by Francisco Silvente

Agrarflug Helilift GmbH & Co. KG, based in Germany, is a major operator of Bell aircraft in Europe and is an official Customer Service Center (CSF) of Bell. This year, 60% of its fleet was involved in firefighting missions, the majority operating in Europe.

In Europe, the planes mainly conduct firefighting operations in Spain and Portugal, but when extreme temperatures caused forest fires in Southeastern Europe earlier this year, their machines were contracted out to this region for additional support.

Agrarflug Helilift estimates that its fleet has accumulated more than 5,000 flight hours so far in 2021 in the firefighting mission alone. One aircraft he uses for this is the Bell 412.

“The 412 is the ideal solution for the firefighting mission,” said Dennis Beese, owner and CEO of Agrarflug Helilift. “With twin engines, a cabin spacious enough to accommodate 13 firefighters and their specialized equipment, the 412 offers exceptional safety and flexibility. Its impressive performance and loading hook capacity allow it to do so while simultaneously lifting 1,200 to 1,500 liters of water. In addition, its reliability, speed and low noise mean that the Bell 412 is capable of fulfilling this demanding role with ease.

Agrarflug Helilift 412s are used to transport water to extinguish and control fires, as well as to transport personnel to critical areas for ground firefighting. The 412’s advanced capabilities mean that the two operations can be conducted simultaneously while carrying specialized equipment. The planes are equipped with specialized skids that allow firefighters to be dropped on inhospitable terrain.

“After more than 20 years of aerial work and firefighting in Bell helicopters, I find their products to deliver exceptional results. In my 6500 hours of accident-free flight with Bell aircraft, I would sum up the product in two words: reliability and safety, ”added José Rabal, pilot and instructor at Rotorsun, based in Águilas, Spain.

Joël Rabassedas, pilot at Rotorsun, has been a firefighter pilot for 13 years: “I have over 700 hours of firefighting flight hours with the Bell 412 and I find it the ideal machine for this operation. It has a great capacity to transport personnel and their tools and adapts well to all the varied terrains of Spain. What I like most is its great mechanical reliability – Bell is a very experienced builder and that gives you great peace of mind as a pilot.

In Spain, Agrarflug Helilift aircraft typically operate anywhere between sea level and a density altitude of 8,000 feet. This, combined with Spain’s widely varying temperatures, means it is essential to use a helicopter that offers both exceptional performance and reliability in any environment, which the Bell 412 delivers.

The 412 has a large capacity to transport personnel and their tools. Photo Bell

“The product not only offers the best solution for this mission, it is also enhanced by Bell’s industry-leading support network,” added Beese. “Excellent product technical support, spare parts availability, training support and customer relationships are fundamental to our operations and that is why we chose to work with Bell during over the past 45 years.

This press release was prepared and distributed by Bell.


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