Air Tractor Europe, in a joint venture with Saab Support and Services, recently delivered to Sweden the second of two Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss scooper water bombers. The aerial firefighting airplanes, pilots and support crews will fulfill a contract with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) to enhance Sweden’s aerial firefighting capabilities. Operations will span April-September fire seasons from 2020 through 2023. The aircraft are stationed at Skavsta Airport in Nyköping, Sweden 100 km south of Stockholm.
The amphibious AT-802F single engine air tankers are included in the rescEU reserve and will serve in Sweden and northern Europe. If the aircraft are used in other EU member states, the EU or the member state in question will cover operational costs. For 2020, MSB has allocated approximately SEK 30 million in fixed costs. The European Union is financing 90 percent of the cost for preparedness measures.
“For many years Air Tractor Europe has been a leading proponent of early detection and quick response to wildfires while they are still small,” says Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch. “Low operating costs, fuel efficiency, and extended operating range make these airplanes well suited for fire patrol duty—and immediate response—on days when wildfire risk is high. They have proven to be cost-efficient and effective for fighting wildfires in Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Cyprus. We are thrilled to see these airplanes now go into service for Northern Europe.”
The AT-802F Fire Boss amphibious scooper water bomber has an 18-meter wingspan and carries a 3,104-liter load of water or fire retardant. The airplane is powered by a 1,700 horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turbine engine that allows it to ferry to fires at speeds approaching 322 kph (173 kts). It lands on and scoops water from nearby lakes, rivers and reservoirs. When close to a water source, the AT-802F Fire Boss can deliver as much as 53,000 liters per hour for extended fire attack or ground support.
Vicente Huerta Jr., owner and chief executive officer of Air Tractor Europe, reports the first AT- 802F Fire Boss was delivered to Saab in early April 2019; another airplane was delivered this year in May. The Spain-based company is the exclusive dealer of the American aircraft manufacturer Air Tractor Inc. for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It provides aircraft sales and maintenance services, aircraft maintenance technician training, flight crew training, consulting, and aerial operations logistical services.
Air Tractor Europe owner and CEO Vicente Huerta (left) and Saab AB, Support & Services Technical Director Peter Corselli upon delivery of the second AT-802F Fire Boss for Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency.
Huerta said the MSB contract includes a contingency for two additional Fire Boss airplanes beginning with the 2021 fire season. Large scale forest fires in Sweden during the 2018 fire season were the impetus to expand Sweden’s aerial firefighting capabilities, particularly in the areas of water bombing and training for rescue and municipal emergency services personnel. The two scooper water bombers will allow the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency to respond more quickly and effectively to wildfire threats in Sweden and Northern Europe.
From their base of operations at Skavsta Airport, the AT-802F Fire Boss aircraft can reach Copenhagen within two hours, or eastern Finland and Luleå in north Sweden within three hours.