A UK company is behind an airborne spray solution which aims to provide countries, states and coastal protection organisations with a rapid response to oil spills.

Agile Spray Response (ASR) is licensed to manufacture, market and sell CONVERT400 a new, cost-effective, future-proof airborne spray solution to reduce environmental damage caused by oil spills at sea.

ASR Chairman Richard Parkes said aerial spray dispersing had been used in the UK in various forms for the last 30 years and was used in the clean up operation which followed the Sea Empress oil tanker accident in Milford Haven in Wales in 1996.

Aerial spray was previously “luxury” only available to some countries

Parkes explained that the company’s mission was to widen the opportunities across the globe for countries and states to have a faster response to environmental pollution: “Aerial spray has always been recognised as a very useful tool in that response toolbox. But until now has been only been a luxury available to some. So we’re hoping that we can now that any country, or state that has coastal environmental threats of potential oil spill, pollution can have an opportunity to utilise the equipment and have a regional response.”

The new system uses more Boeing 737 800 freighters. Standard aircraft will require fixed fittings for aerial spraying, but the company believes that there will be both a long and steady supply of the planes worldwide and a support infrastructure in place.

Parkes explained: “The UK traditionally used Electras and DC3, which now tend to have velvet ropes around them more than being an operational service. And so the project was started off as a replacement for those older systems. It was made more interesting by the fact that dispersant was declared to be flammable for flying purposes.”

Aircraft can be modified for freight and emergency use

Parkes explains how the system would allow for a turnaround between freight and environmental emergency usage. “When the moment the day comes, you want to use the system, you could be away flying freight in its normal business, it comes in, it’ll take three hours to load all equipment up into the aircraft, and then it can respond.”

“There’s no such thing as a standard oil spill and where it’s got to go, how far it’s from dispersing stocks are all variables about how much you can do how far you got to fly offshore. But the advantage is, it’s a very responsive cost-effective tool.”

System certified by EASA and FAA

The system will be available to national governments and organisations with responsibilities for coastlines and maritime environments. The system works in partnership with airlines so there can be national and regional control of the aircraft.

Once initial modifications have been made, the freighters can be converted into a tanker capable of dispersing even major oil spills. East Midlands Airport neighbour RVL has already converted two 737s and the system has gone through extensive testing, featuring both ground, sea and air trials, with positive results. The system has achieved both FAA and EASA certification

Tests were carried out off the English south coast of Cornwall and the Firth of Clyde in Scotland using the very first ro-ro conversion of the 737-400 . RVL’s tests showed success over a variety of dosage levels allowing a range of oil types to be treated quickly, accurately and cost-effectively.

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