The Switchback is designated as a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) aircraft.
According to company officials, it has the ability to deliver 500 gallons of water, retardant, or fire suppressant with pinpoint accuracy – all while operating in tight environments.
“What makes the Switchback incredibly unique, however, is the aircraft’s ability to switch from agricultural spray duties to firefighting capabilities in a matter of minutes, thanks to its unique fire gate delivery system built by Transland,” company officials said in a prepared release.
When in firefighting mode, Transland’s gatebox allows the Switchback to deliver a full 500-gallon salvo drop in less than two seconds while providing a narrow drop pattern for an effective fire line.
Within minutes, the Switchback can convert back to agricultural spray operations, allowing operators to keep the aircraft working and generating revenue, both in and out of fire season, company officials noted.
The Thrush 510G is available in both single and dual cockpit-dual control configurations, allowing greater mission flexibility, from spray operations, to firefighting, to training and observation.
The first two 510G Switchbacks have been delivered to the Georgia Forestry Commission where they are being put into service for fire detection, rapid response firefighting, and training.
Another key capability of the 510G Switchback is its ability to land on unimproved surfaces closer to a wildfire. This allows the aircraft to reload and be back in the air over a fire in a matter of minutes, rather than the much longer turnaround time required by larger aircraft, company officials said.