Olney, TEXAS – Air Tractor, Inc. employees and management celebrated the completion and delivery of the 200th AT-802 aircraft to Conair Group, Inc. of Abbotsford, British Columbia in early March. The AT-802F SEAT (single engine air tanker) turboprop aircraft will become the eighth AT-802F to join Conair’s Aerial Firefighting Services fleet since the Canadian specialty aircraft operations company purchased Serial #33 AT-802F in 1996, according to Leland Snow, president of Air Tractor.
“This is a big milestone for Air Tractor. It reflects the leading role that the AT-802F has come to play in initial attack firefighting operations all over the world. We are very pleased and gratified that Conair has taken delivery of Serial Number 200,” Snow said. “The AT-802F has proven its worth with some of the world’s largest aerial firefighting contractors as a reliable initial attack air tanker, heavy tanker support, and wildland/urban interface area support. The versatility of the AT-802F also extends into the off-season for forest protection, which gives it year-round usefulness.”
The AT-802F is the only American-built, FAA-certificated aircraft specifically designed and built for fighting and controlling wildfires. Powered by a powerful, quiet turbine engine built by Pratt & Whitney Canada, the 802F has a large 800-gallon capacity tank to carry fire retardant, foam or water.
“AT-802F single engine air tankers have been sold for fire fighting service in the United States, Canada, Chile, Spain, Croatia and Australia,” Snow said. In the United States during 2004 the AT-802F successfully worked state and federal fire fighting contracts in ten states and comprised nearly half of the SEAT aircraft under contract to the Bureau of Land Management in 2004. “More and more fire management officials are recognizing the benefits and cost effectiveness of this plane. And as a result, government agencies are specifying the AT-802F in multi-year contracts,” Snow concluded.
Production of the largest aircraft in the Air Tractor product line began in 1993, with two models of the 802 Series: the AT-802 for high production agricultural spraying and the AT-802F, designed as a single engine air tanker for aerial firefighting. The AT-802F can operate from small airports for quick ferry time, allowing operators like Conair to support their customers’ requirements for effective initial attack on small fires and for extended attack in support of ground crews.
“Conair was the first to employ the AT-802F for aerial firefighting in Canada, and we are extremely pleased with its performance,” said Rick Pedersen, vice president and general manager of Conair. “The 802 has been a reliable and cost-efficient aircraft for us. All of our 802s are used exclusively for firefighting operations. The aircraft’s speed, maneuverability, drop accuracy and rugged design are ideal for the wide range of challenging conditions and terrain in which Conair operates. The AT-802F, on wheels or on amphibious floats, provides our customers with a very cost effective tool in their inventory. During our eight years operating Air Tractor AT-802F aircraft, we’ve found them to be easy to support, operate and maintain.”
Conair has eight different types of aircraft in its fleet of 49 that are dedicated for aerial firefighting services. Three of the eight Conair AT-802Fs are equipped with amphibious floats from Wipaire to enable these especially equipped planes to scoop water from lakes, rivers and ponds. Several are dual-cockpit configurations that offer the flexibility for Conair to conduct training or carry support personnel for remote base operations.
“The float-equipped ‘Fire Boss’ version of the AT-802F is starting to get a lot of attention,” Leland Snow said. “The folks at Wipaire designed and installed the floats. It’s just one more way to expand the utility and capabilities of the AT-802F and provide fire fighters a variety of effective tools at their disposal to respond as conditions on the fire line change.”
Designed from the wheels up as an initial attack firefighter, the AT-802F employs state-of-the-art computer controls and hydraulic power for an exclusive 802F fire gate designed to apply optimum coverage level to combat brush and grass fires or heavier forest canopies blazes. Its accurate coverage capabilities and maneuverability make the AT-802F highly effective in sensitive wildland urban interface fires, narrow flight corridors and confined terrain areas.
“We are delighted and honored to take delivery of the 200th AT-802F,” said Conair’s Pedersen. “This Air Tractor milestone deserves special recognition.”
In business since 1974, Air Tractor, Inc. manufactures more aircraft for the agricultural aviation industry than any other company in the world at its production facilities in Olney, Texas. For more information about the AT-802F single engine air tanker, other Air Tractor aircraft or for the name of the nearest authorized Air Tractor dealer, contact Air Tractor, Inc. at 940-564-5616 or check our website at www.airtractor.com.