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Aerial Infrared Technology

The mission of the NIICD’s Aerial Infrared Technology section is to provide accurate high-quality Aerial Infrared Technology imagery to an incident in a timely manner. Through the years this has become quite a task. As Aerial Infrared Technology advances, so do Aerial Infrared Technology mapping requirements. NIICD Infrared, with the assistance of the Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is tasked to stay ‘up-to-date’ on emerging Aerial Infrared Technology and their applications for wildfire suppression and study. NIICD currently accomplishes its mission with thermal line scanners.

In the early 1960’s a study on Aerial Infrared Technology Line Scanners for Fire Mapping was conducted by Stanley N. Hirsch, Robert L. Bjornsen, Forrest H. Madden and Ralph A. Wilson of the Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, USDA Forest Service in Missoula, Montana. It was called Project Fire Scan and ran from 1962 to 1966. In the initial tests and AAS/5 scanner was loaned to the group and modified to meet the requirements of the study. In 1964 a contract was negotiated by the Office of Civil Defense and the first Fire Mapping Aerial Infrared Technology Line Scanner was manufactured and delivered to the USDA Forest Service in the spring of 1965. The USDA Forest Service has been utilizing Aerial Infrared Technology Line Scanners in their wild land fire protection program successfully since 1966.

Since its beginning in 1966, the National Aerial Infrared Technology Operations Unit (composed of NIICD Infrared and NIFC Forest Service Aviation) has been digging into new emerging technologies. During the last several months many dedicated individuals and organizations have been doing very careful research by engaging in open discussions. Scientists and professors from the University of Michigan Sciences Department, two private corporations, along with engineers and program managers from both NASA and the US Army Aviation and Missile Command decided that line scanners are the best Aerial Infrared Technology for fire detection and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Work has been completed for updating the current line scanners at NIICD resulting in the Phoenix System. Finding sources for the motors, mirrors, electronics, and mechanical components is complete. The line scanner offers a wide field-of-view (120 degrees), fast data acquisition (200 scan lines per second), optimal resolution (12.5 square feet per pixel at 10,000 Feet Above Ground Level (AGL)), which translates to the ability to cover a very large amount of area in a short time and detect very small fires reliably.

The latest system from the National Aerial Infrared Technology Operations Unit is a Windows 98- based computer with single Data Acquisition Card. The output of this system will be a continuous strip image and a geo-referenced ‘.tiff’ file CD-ROM. Phoenix is NIICD’s primary line scanner.

The Phoenix line scanning system will be the primary system for 2003. Testing of Phoenix was completed in 2002. Daedalus will supplement Phoenix with Flame in reserve.

A point-to-point downlinking system will be tested this year. This system should operate up to 50 miles away from the ground site to the aircraft.

NIICD Aerial Infrared Technology is looking into the availability of a satellite downlinking system. Issues include bandwidth availability and equipment size.

The National Aerial Infrared Technology Operations Unit products would have minimal value without a host of dedicated and highly trained Aerial Infrared Technology Interpreters. These people can take a thermal image of plotches, wiggles and dots then locate hotspots, hand lines, dozer lines, and rocks to say nothing of obvious terrain features like roads, streams, ridges, and buildings with extreme accuracy. They transfer line scanner data to local terrain maps. These maps guide incident personnel on where to concentrate their resources and assist the local people and media on the fire status.

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Fairchild Swearingen Merlin IVC
Serial Number AT-577B
Registration N120JM

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Dan Dickinson, President

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