Approximately 50% of the aircraft used to fight wildfires this year will be Air Tractor’s AT-802 aircraft.
The Olney, Texas-based company reported late last month that its AT-802 will make up 50% of the firefighting fleet for the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The AT-802F single engine air tanker (SEAT) is the only American-made aircraft specifically designed for fighting and controlling wildfires.
“The AT-802 continues to provide critical close air support for our ground firefighters when called upon in the initial attack role,” said Mark Bickham, aviation management specialist and national SEAT program manager for the BLM.
Bickham confirmed that with the most recent “Call When Needed” contracts, the BLM was looking to increase the number of AT-802s from approximately 30% to around 50% of the available fleet. The size of the AT-802 fleet will grow from a high of 35 aircraft in 2004 to approximately 45 aircraft this year.
Used throughout the world to fight wildfires, the turbine-powered AT-802F carries up to 800 gallons of fire retardant, foam or water. It is well suited to attack and control fires in increasingly populated urban areas, as well as in high altitudes and mountainous terrains, company officials say.
Meanwhile, the company just delivered the 200th AT-802 to Conair Group, Inc. of Abbotsford, British Columbia. This is the eighth AT-802 in Conair’s firefighting fleet.