The Air Tractor (AT) 802-F, Single Engine Aerial Tanker (SEAT) is a highly effective and sought-after aerial firefighting resource. It is specifically designed for fast and effective aerial firefighting.
Around the world this fire-extinguishing aircraft labours, season after season, to supply fast and efficient relief during wildland firefighting operations – not just as an initial attack resource, but also to support ground crews during extended operations.
This remarkable aircraft carries up to 3,104 litres of water mixed with fire suppressants and it reaches a cruising speed of 250 km/h for rapid response to a fireline. Its programmable computerised “fire gate” can discharge its content in pre-set volumes and intervals or as a once-off load, enabling the pilot to optimise dispersal and make precision drops on a number of critical points on a fire.
The computer takes air speed, volume and height above ground to determine the volume and timing of the load to be released.
“The settings allow the pilot to disperse the load evenly along the flanks of a grassland fire, pulling a line of up to 1,000 metres,” explains Koos Kieck, ex-military (South African Air Force pilot), now bomber pilot for Working on Fire Aviation.
“On the other hand, one can also ‘open the gates’ and eject the full tank within half a second to penetrate thick forest canopies.”
Once emptied, it returns to the airfield at speeds up to 350 km/h to refill its tank. The refill operation takes about 2 minutes, after which it returns to the fireline.
The AT 802-F has an endurance of 3.5 to 4 hours and, depending on the proximity of the runway, its average turnaround time is about 14 minutes, delivering roughly 14,000 litres per hour onto a fire.
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