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Uses

Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane
Kern County (California) Fire Department Bell 205 dropping water on fire
Polish police Bell 206
Polish police Bell 206

Due to the unique operating characteristics of the helicopter—its ability to takeoff and land vertically, and to hover for extended periods of time, as well as the aircraft's handling properties under low airspeed conditions—it has grown increasingly popular for conducting tasks that were previously not possible, or were time- or work-intensive. Today, helicopters are used for transportation, for construction, for firefighting, search and rescue, and a variety of other jobs that require the special capabilities of the helicopter.

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As aerial cranes, helicopters carry loads connected to long cables or slings in order to place heavy equipment such as transmission towers and large air conditioning units on the tops of tall buildings or when an item must be raised up in a remote area, such as a radio tower raised on the top of a hill or mountain, far from the nearest road. The most popular use of helicopters as aerial cranes is in the logging industry to lift large trees out of rugged terrain where vehicles aren't able to reach, or where environmental concerns prohibit the building of roads. These operations are referred to as longline because of the long, single sling line used to carry the load.

Aerial firefighting (or water bombing) is a method to combat wildfires that often uses helicopters. Helicopters may be fitted with tanks or carry buckets or deliver firefighters who rappel to the ground below. Buckets, such as the Bambi bucket, are usually filled by submerging in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, or portable tanks. Tanks may be filled on the ground or water may be siphoned from lakes or reservoirs through a hanging snorkel. Helicopters are also used to resupply firefighters on the ground with tools, food, water and other supplies. Popular firefighting helicopters include variants of the Bell 205 and the Erickson S-64 Aircrane helitanker.

Helicopters are used as an air ambulance for emergency medical assistance in situations where either a traditional ambulance cannot easily or quickly reach the scene or when a patient needs to be transported at a distance where air transportation is most practical. Air ambulance helicopters are equipped to provide medical treatment to a critically injured or ill patient while in flight. The use of helicopters as an air ambulance is often referred to as MEDEVAC, and patients are referred to as being "airlifted", or "medevaced".

Police departments and other law enforcement agencies use helicopters to search for and pursue suspects. Since helicopters can achieve a unique aerial view and don't need to negotiate ground obstacles, they are often used in conjunction with police on the ground to report on suspects' locations and movements. They are often mounted with lighting and heat-sensing equipment for night pursuits.

Military forces use attack helicopters to conduct aerial attacks on ground targets. Such helicopters are mounted with missile launchers and miniguns. Transport helicopters are used to ferry troops and supplies where the lack of an airstrip would make transport via fixed-wing aircraft impossible. Transport helicopters used to deliver troops as an attack force on an objective is referred to as Air Assault.

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Other uses

  • Aerial photography
  • Motion picture photography
  • Electronic news gathering
  • Search and Rescue
  • Touring or personal pleasure
  • Transport

 

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