Korean Air is providing fire fighting and rescue services at a popular vacation destination two of its hybrid drones. The craft’s mix of battery and internal combustion power will increase the length of missions flown, and enhance the craft’s resistance to rough weather conditions.

Hybrid drone offer new tools in emergency response

Korean Air has been developing the hybrid powered drone since 2016. It has now signed a deal with the island of Jeju’s Fire Safety Headquarters to provide the craft for use in response to fires, accidents, and search and rescue operations. The 705square-mile island is one of South Korea’s biggest domestic tourism and vacation spots. The Korean Air KUS-HD-NEO21 drones will equip Jeju’s fire and rescue forces with new and effective assets in managing emergencies.

The craft are outfitted with electronic optical and infrared cameras to allow remote, real-time surveillance of trouble situations. At other times, they’ll be deployed to monitor areas where the risk of fire or accidents is considered high. The foldable drones are described as requiring reduced flight preparation time – meaning speedier deployment than other options.

Dual-power engine also enhances performance

Once aloft, the battery-combustion hybrid engine allows for extending mission time from the usual 30-minute maximum of electric drones to about two hours. 

Korean Air says those motors also allow for more robust performance by the craft. For example, it can be flown in temperatures ranging from -20℃ to 45℃, and withstand winds of up to 14 miles per second – capacities that may well be needed in the changing, at times harsh conditions on Jeju. The drones can reach a maximum speed of 72 km/h, and ascend as high as 500 meters.

Korean Air had also sold the hybrid vessels to the city of Busan, as well as Korea’s Navy and Air Force. It now plans to market the craft to the nation’s forest service, police departments, power plants, and appropriate government agencies. It is hoping to begin selling the drones to international clients soon.

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