Airbus Defence and Space

Space in daily life Press releases

Space technology used to fight forest fires in Greece

On Sunday 23 August, at 20:15, the Hellenic General Secretariat for Civil Protection requested that the European Services and Applications for Emergency Response (SAFER) be put in to effect to help fight the fires raging around Athens.

  • Airbus Defence and Space’s subsidiary, Infoterra France, is coordinating operations
  • SAFER is an emergency service that produces maps from satellite images as part of the GMES programme

Developed as part of the European Commission’s Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) programme, SAFER is an emergency service that produces maps from satellite images to help the work of disaster and emergency services. The European Space Agency will ask several satellite operators, including Spot Image, to supply images of the Athens area. The Greek Civil Protection teams will then receive a series of maps showing how the situation is developing on the ground. The maps will also allow Greek authorities to accurately measure the extent of the damage caused by the fires.

Introduced in January 2009, SAFER is now operational with teams on standby 24/7. Airbus Defence and Space’s subsidiary, Infoterra France, is coordinating operations. The service draws on the skills and know-how of many service providers and European research centres that specialise in Earth observation and risk management, such as SERTIT, CNES, DLR and Telespazio.

Since early July 2009, the GMES SAFER service has been called on four times: satellite images have already been used to fight fires in Marseille, Sardinia and Aullène in southern Corsica.


Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2008, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.3 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.

 AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2008, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €43.3 billion and employed a workforce of more than 118, 000.


The image shows the situation as viewed from the European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite. The size of the plume of smoke, seen from an altitude of 800 km, clearly indicates the extent of the fires.

Further information will be available soon on



Press contacts:

Airbus Defence and Space

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                       Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                              Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41




Fabienne Grazzini (Infoterra FR)                                                Tel.: +33 (0)5 62 19 63 26

Gil Denis (Infoterra FR)                                                                Tel: +33 (0)5 62 19  62 53

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