June 23, 2019, Willows, CA– Courtney Aviation became the first federally contracted aviation company to deploy the Overwatch Imaging TK-5 Earthwatch digital imaging sensor on their Helio Courier mapping aircraft. This new technology has programmable artificial intelligence (AI) software that provides the flight crew real-time early detection of wildfire hotspots and wildfire perimeter mapping using color, near-infrared and thermal infrared imaging sensors.
The TK-5 Earthwatch vividly displays the fire for the pilot to adjust course real-time if the fire has moved into unexpected locations. “We were able to fly over a 460 acre area at 7:45 pm PST, collect data in one pass, map it and disseminate the information via FirstNet cellular connection to the forest service by 8:21 pm PST.” Said Mark Zaller, CTO and Air Attack Pilot with Courtney Aviation. In addition to mapping the original area of concern, the system detected and mapped a small spot fire on a neighboring ridge from more than a mile above that turned out to be the firefighter’s Spike Camp fire for warming.
“Successful fire management has a lot of moving parts, and the safest and most efficient outcomes occur when decision-makers have the best information at the right time. I am excited that Courtney Aviation is redefining the standards for timely data collection, mapping and redistribution to first
responders,” said Greg Davis, Founder and CEO of Overwatch Imaging. The TK-5 Earthwatch automatically creates federally standardized deliverables such as GeoPDF Fire maps, ESRI SHP fire polygons and Google Earth fire perimeter KML files as the data is captured.
The benefits of real-time, on-demand aerial data collection and processing are numerous. It increases the safety for first responders while creating shared situational awareness (SA). SA is one of the most important factors during any incident. More relevant and timely shared data and mapping leads to better decision making for the ground crew. With accurate data, it is safer for fires to run their natural course, which leads to healthier forests and less uncontrolled wildfires. Better control of wildfires also increases community safety and is more cost effective. These benefits increase the efficiency of today’s firefighting model.
About Courtney Aviation
Courtney Aviation, based in Columbia, California, is a high-tech provider of aviation services from passenger carrying and Air Attack planes to multi-spectral mapping and streaming of live tactical infrared images to firefighters. Contracting to federal and state fire agencies for 33 years, Courtney provides jet-powered aircraft and “manned UAVs” that fly from 40-300+ mph. A manned-UAV is a traditionally piloted aircraft without airspace restrictions whose cameras are operated from the ground using a high-speed MANET mesh downlink.