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Fuelling helicopter firefighters

Release date:
November 2023
As destinations renowned for their high temperatures and diverse topography ranging from mountainous terrain and dense forests to arid landscapes, both Spain and Portugal are subject to the devastating impact of wildfires. Helicopter firefighting services are a formidable aerial defence against these blazing infernos.


Air bp supplies fuel to various helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) organisations throughout Spain and Portugal for which more than 90% of these customers’ services are focused on firefighting activities. 


A crucial aspect of maintaining the readiness and operational efficiency of firefighting helicopters revolves around the intricacies of fuelling. Safety is paramount for the sector. The fuelling process with helicopter firefighting operations often takes place in challenging environments. Strict adherence to safety training protocols such as spill prevention are vital to mitigate the risk of any further incidents.


Air bp has a team dedicated to providing technical and logistical expertise to support safe, reliable fuelling such as the maintenance of fuel storage, equipment and distribution infrastructure. This is integral to Air bp’s logistical support to aircraft in general. Storage tanks are regularly inspected, maintained and upgraded to prevent fuel contamination and comply with industry safety standards.


Part of Air bp’s service for customers includes training on how to manage and operate the fuelling equipment such as the bowsers or refuellers supplied to customers and ensuring fuelling systems are optimally configured to accommodate the helicopter’s engine type, design specifications and the client’s operational requirements. An important factor to consider in general is differing payload capacities, such as water tanks and retardant chemicals, all of which have varying weight implications when calculating fuel allocation.



According to one such customer, Rafael Ordoñez, a ground operations manager, with Pegasus Aero Group which operates in Spain and Portugal, as well as Italy, Peru, Chile and Uruguay: “The long-standing relationship our company has with Air bp has allowed us to work closely to coordinate an agile distribution of fuel for emergency situations. The technical advice we receive from Air bp regarding the design, modification and maintenance of fuel facilities is invaluable and an area in which Air bp has extensive experience that we can lean on. Fuel is either delivered to the tanks of our main headquarters in Palma del Río and Matilla de los Caños (Spain), from where we manage distribution by truck to locations across Spain, or it is delivered directly by Air bp to locations in Spain where we have aircraft and fuel tanks.”  



In addition, innovations in technology are a key consideration in today’s fuelling practices. Air bp’s safe2go fuel data platform helps streamline the refuelling process, enhance accuracy and provide real-time data on fuel consumption. This in turn allows firefighting teams to optimise fuel allocation and make informed decisions. 


With Air bp’s fuelling services for helicopters, Air bp can support its firefighting customers with its multifaceted process that encompasses safety, precision, strategic planning, as well as technological and logistical expertise. 


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