Did you know that the primary aircraft that FPL uses for Aerial Forest Firefighting and Aerial Treatment is the same aircraft?
The Air Tractor 802 (AT-802) is designed to handle both roles and FPL has been employing AT-802s as its primary air tanker and application aircraft since the early 2000s. These were purchased over a three-year period to replace FPL’s ageing fleet of TBM Avengers which were re-purposed US Navy and Marine Corps torpedo bombers. Post WW2, the Avengers were used for aerial forest fire fighting and aerial treatment at FPL.
AT-802: Aerial Forest Fire Fighting
When our AT-802s are ready to conduct aerial fire fighting as an air tanker the hopper is filled with fire retardant by FPL’s ground crew. The retardant is mixed with water when loaded into the aircraft which can hold up to 800 gallons and is released precisely by the pilot where required. The fire retardant released by AT-802s is designed to control and suppress a forest fire while wildland firefighters continue to slow or stop them from the ground.
AT-802: Aerial Treatment
For the Aerial Treatment Role, booms with Micronair atomizers are fitted to the aircraft, the hopper is rinsed of any remaining fire retardant or other product and the product used for treatment is loaded into the hopper. The amount of product loaded is dependent on the planned aerial mission and treatment area. Again, through the support of mission planning software, our Aerial Management Systems controls, and the expertise of our pilots, the product is dispensed at ultra-low volumes accurately on target and precisely where required.
Given the sensitivity of the customized booms and atomizer technology, only Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs) are capable of fitting them on or removing them from our aircraft. They are stored on special racks when not in use to ensure their structural integrity is maintained. Like any maintenance work done on our aircraft, installing and removing such equipment must be logged in maintenance records and stamped by an AME.
Both aerial forest fire fighting and aerial treatments are complex operations that the Air Tractor 802 is capable of handling. AT-802’s are vital to Forest Protection Limited’s commitment of preserving and protecting the forest that sustain us. To learn more about our Aerial Management Systems, visit our website’s “Our Technology” section.