The Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) of Japan now possesses the world’s first helicopter satellite communications system, the HSA40, courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Tokyo branch of its distributor, Seiryo Electric Company.
Seiryo has installed an airborne station aboard the Kyoto City Fire Department’s helicopter. Base stations have been installed at the Kyoto City Fire Department in Kyoto and FDMA in Tokyo.
The HSA40 satcom system is projected to start operations in early April 2013. The FDMA will use it to gather information on disaster areas to support the rapid deployment of emergency-response measures.
The FDMA currently gathers critical information through its Heli-TV system, where a helicopter directly transmits TV signals directly to a terrestrial relay station. The older communications system often needs an operating relay station in the proximity of the disaster area, and its transmissions can be disrupted by buildings or mountains.
In comparison, the HSA40 helicopter satellite communication system facilitates the reliable real-time transmission of aerial video and voice data from a helicopter to any base station in Japan via satellite.
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