Fire Boss aircraft lands at Tamworth base to fight fires in region

November 26, 2015 - excerpt from www.northerndailyleader.com.au

On a day when devastating and deadly fires took lives elsewhere, the north welcomed new firefighting help from the sky, as a rapid-response resource ahead of what experts warn will be a long, hot summer.

There were severe fire danger warnings for much of the north, and the day brought three blazes: in the Pilliga, at Nowendoc and near Yarrowyck. 

The fire danger came as gusty and blustery conditions brought wind speeds of up to 70km around Tamworth and Gunnedah, while Narrabri recorded a blast of wind early in the morning that reached 83km/h. Read the article at www.northerndailyleader.com.au


Appleton firm fights western fires

September 1, 2015 - excerpt from www.wctrib.com

A good day's work at this Appleton-based company can mean saving lives, homes or a farmer's crops.

This year that has been happening on nearly a daily basis for the Aero Spray team. It began fighting wildland fires in early March. Company founder and owner John Schwenk said the end of this season's fight is not yet in sight.

Aero Spray pilots began the season helping battle wildfires in Minnesota but soon focused their attention on wildland fires charring forests in the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. With an operations base in Deer Park, Washington, Aero Spray's firefighting team has a fleet of eight aircraft at work, dropping water and fire retardant. Read the article at www.wctrib.com


New planes to fight wildfires getting plenty of use by Minnesota DNR

April 13, 2015 - excerpt from www.northlandsnewscenter.com

This year's wildfire season has been quite intense for Minnesota firefighters.

New tools to fight those fires are being put to good use. Read the article at www.northlandnewscenter.com


New firefighting airplanes helping DNR combat outbreak of wildfires

April 4, 2015 - excerpt from www.wctrib.com

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' fleet of wildfire-combating airplanes has doubled this year, and not a moment too soon.

Dozens of wildfires have local and regional firefighters in full alert across the state. Ron Stoffel, the DNR's wildfire suppression supervisor, estimated his department responded to "about 50 or 60" different wildfires across the state Thursday alone, with the six new FireBoss airplanes helping combat 15 of those fires. Read the article at www.wctrib.com


DNR Fights Fires with New 'Fire Boss' Aircraft

April 3, 2015 - excerpt from kstp.com

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be fighting fires from the sky with more force.

The state fire program recently transitioned to a new aircraft that can extinguish a fire in record time.

Jeff Weaver is a chief pilot for Aero Spray of Appleton, Minnesota, and he flies the FireBoss. Read the article at kstp.com


DNR upgrades aerial wildfire fleet

April 3, 2015 - excerpt from www.kare11.com

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is upgrading its firefighting fleet for the 2105 season while saving money in the process.

The DNR announced Friday it has added four new Fire Boss aircrafts and two single engine airtankers to the team, replacing the antiquated CL-215s the state used for more than a decade. Read the article at www.kare11.com


Minnesota DNR shows off new firefighting aircraft, the Fire Boss

April 3, 2015 - excerpt from www.Fox9.com

A new firefighting aircraft, the FireBoss, will be used by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources during the 2015 fire season.

The state fire program recently transitioned from CL-215 planes to the new FireBoss in order to keep pace with changing technology and efficiencies. Read the article at www.Fox9.com


Real-Life Fire & Rescue Pilot

July 31, 2014 - excerpt from www.airtractor.com

Pilot Jesse Weaver has just arrived at his new home for the summer, an aerial firefighting aircraft and smokejumper base surrounded by the Payette National Forest in Idaho. When a wildfire flares up, he'll climb into the cockpit of his Air Tractor AT-802F "Fire Boss" and zoom off to help snuff it out with 500-800 gallons of water or fire retardant. Jesse and his airplane are the real-life inspiration for Dusty Crophopper in Disney's new animated adventure Planes: Fire & Rescue. And while there are laughs, heroics and drama on the big screen, the south Louisiana native is all business when he's fighting fires and flying just above the flames and smoke. Read the article at www.airtractor.com


First Air Tractor AT802F Fire Boss in Argentina Creates Excitement En Route To New Home

When the wheels of the 802F Fire Boss touched down in Rosario, Argentina—about 300 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires—Air Tractor Inc. had reached another milestone. After a flawless transcontinental flight, the company's first South American delivery of an AT-802F Fire Boss amphibious water scooper was successfully and safely delivered to its new owner in Argentina.

The new 802F Fire Boss joins the aerial firefighting fleet of Alaire/AeroFlight S.A. of Lincoln, Argentina. Alaire/AeroFlight S.A is a dedicated aerial firefighting organization contracted by the Argentine government to provide year-around wildfire control services throughout the country. The company operates the largest fleet of AT-802F air tankers based in Latin America.

The story begins February 2012, when John Mishler, working with Ag-Sur Aviones (Air Tractor dealer for South America), contacted Jamie Sargent of Fire Boss LLC / Wipaire, Inc. requesting a quote for a Fire Boss float set to be installed on a 2-seat AT802F. Orlando Dario Colombi, owner of Alaire/AeroFlight wanted to have a fast-responding water/foam single engine air tanker that could pick up water from nearby lakes and rivers. The Fire Boss would be stationed at different wildfire-prone areas as the country's fire season progressed northward from the Patagonia region in the south of Argentina. "Alaire/AeroFlight is a dedicated aerial firefighting company," says Mishler. "While they also have some Dromader and Kruk turbine aircraft, Dario Colombi is adding to his fleet of Air Tractors because of their performance, capacity and overall reliability."

Mishler and Alejandro Moreno, with the help of Air Tractor, worked on the aircraft's Argentine Civil Aviation certification for the numerous Fire Boss modifications, among which were the Wipaire 10000 floats and the 1600 SHP PT6A-67F engine. "There were many details we discovered needed to be addressed, as this would be the country's very first amphibious water scooper. Jamie Sargent and I had a fast and steep learning curve with respect to seaplane operations in Argentina."

Even though pilots of Alaire/AeroFlight were seasoned veterans in land-based AT-802F aircraft, Jamie Sargent and Dario Colombi decided to conduct a comprehensive Fire Boss ground school and in-flight seaplane training for two Alaire/AeroFlight pilots prior to the delivery of the Fire Boss. Pilots Jose Caminos and Andres Desideri went through the ground school and in-flight training in late September.

By mid-October, Alaire/AeroFlight pilots had received their seaplane training, Argentine Civil Aviation certification was complete, Ex-Im Bank financing was secured with assistance from Finance Manager Phil Jeske at Air Tractor, all the aircraft systems were fully operational, and the 802F Fire Boss was ready for its journey to Argentina.

Left to Right: Jamie Sargent of Fire Boss LLC, Pilot Jose Ignacio Caminos, Owner Orlando Dario Colombi, Pilot Andres Daniel Desideri, Fire Boss Chief Pilot Mark Mathisen at the completion of the Fire Boss pilot training program.
Left to Right: Jamie Sargent of Fire Boss LLC, Pilot Jose Ignacio Caminos, Owner Orlando Dario Colombi, Pilot Andres Daniel Desideri, Fire Boss Chief Pilot Mark Mathisen at the completion of the Fire Boss pilot training program.

Jamie Sargent recalls that getting the 802F Fire Boss to its new home in Argentina was a positive experience. "It required significantly more communication and attention to detail, given the difference in language and the newness of seaplane operations in Argentina." With the many hurdles overcome, Sargent chalks this up as a learning experience.  "I'm looking forward to the next Fire Boss delivery in South America," he says.

New Fire Boss owner Dario Colombi made the long trip to his home country in the back seat of the tandem-seat aircraft, with ferry pilot Steve Lane, a highly experienced heavy seaplane pilot, at the controls in the front seat. The flight originated at Wipaire headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, then stopped briefly in Tallahassee and Lakeland, Florida.  Lane and Columbi continued south to San Juan, Puerto Rico, then crossed the Caribbean to Curacao on the South American mainland.  The Fire Boss continued on to Boa Vista, Brazil and then followed the Orinoco River southward via Alta Floresta and Foz do Iguacu to Rosario, Argentina, before arriving at Alaire/AeroFlight headquarters in Lincoln.  

“At almost every stop,“ jokes Lane, “we found ourselves facing throngs of airport staff and ground crew, all with camera phones snapping pictures of our massive yellow Fire Boss.  Dario and I later decided we should have been charging for photos and autographs.” 

But the two did make time for a few photographs of their own during their lengthy journey.  With only a slight adjustment, their flight plan took them over the world's tallest waterfall, Angel Falls, at Canaima National Park, Venezuela.

The AT-802F Fire Boss is the product of an alliance between Air Tractor, the world's leading agricultural spray aircraft manufacturer and Wipaire, the world's largest aircraft float manufacturer.  With thousands of operational flight hours under its wings, the aircraft has proven its value as an aerial firefighter all around the globe.  “When we arrived in Argentina we saw smoke on the horizon, and I knew that this airplane had found its new home,” remembered Lane. 

From clear and calm to rain and fog, as far as weather conditions go, the trip to South America afforded Lane and Colombi a little bit of everything.  “The power of the Fire Boss is awesome, especially when you realize that is has the power of a P-51 Mustang.  But at the same time, it is truly a joy to fly, even when the weather is not cooperating.”

“With four AT-802Fs already in our fleet,” Mr. Colombi said , “we know what kind of performance we can expect from our new Fire Boss, and we are very eager to put it to work.”

 

This article has been reproduced with kind permission of Air Tractor. View the original article Here.

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Air Tractor 802F "Fire Boss" Air Tanker To Demonstrate Aerial Firefighting Capabilities At Sheppard AFB Air Show

Olney, TEXAS – Only a few weeks after wildfires burned a devastating swath across South Central Texas, an innovative aerial firefighting single engine air tanker will fly from Minnesota to demonstrate its forest firefighting capabilities at the Wings Over Houston Air Show October 15-16.  The Air Tractor® 802F "Fire Boss", modified with amphibious water scooping floats, will make fire drop demonstration flights at the air show Saturday and Sunday.

The AT-802F is manufactured at Air Tractor, Inc. in the small town of Olney, located 40 miles south of Wichita Falls.  In service for more than 20 years, the AT-802F is the world's leading single engine air tanker (SEAT) for aerial firefighting and operates in countries around the world, from Australia to Israel.  The "Fire Boss" version of the 802F is equipped with a specialized set of Wipaire® amphibious floats for "touch and go" scooping of water from lakes, rivers, reservoirs and bodies of water near wildfires.  Fire Boss LLC, the exclusive marketing company for the Wipaire “Fire Boss” water scooping float system, will be flying its demonstration aircraft at the Wings Over Houston Air Show. 

There are 57 "Fire Boss" aircraft in operation throughout the world, with most of the aircraft working in Europe and Canada.  Aero Spray, Inc. of Appleton, Minnesota, is currently the only operator of the "Fire Boss" waterscooper aircraft in the United States.  Aero Spray currently provides aerial fire-fighting services to the several U.S. fire agencies including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The company’s fire-fighting fleet includes three amphibious AT-802F Fire Bosses and one land-based AT-802F single engine air tanker.

Air Tractor's AT-802F “Fire Boss” is renowned as a fast and highly maneuverable aerial firefighting aircraft that is both operationally effective and economical. It can be dispatched from an airport in less than 5 minutes with a load of retardant, gel, foam, or water. It can then scoop water from a nearby source and work a fire for up to 3 hours without refueling at an airport, forward attack base (e.g. gravel strip or road), or water base. When fire season is over, the 802F “Fire Boss” can be quickly converted to a land-based configuration and deployed in agriculture and forest protection/rehabilitation activities including aerial insecticide application, re-seeding, hydromulch applications, and fertilization. 

The aircraft is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67F turbine engine that generates 1,600-shaft horsepower. The AT-802F has a fiberglass hopper tank with a capacity of 820 gallons.  It can fill the tank in just 15-20 seconds as it skims across the water surface.  The "Fire Boss" has a gross take-off and maximum scooping weight of 16,000 pounds, an average empty weight of 9,000 pounds, and an average useful load of 7,000 pounds.  Cruise speed is approximately 150 kts.; air speed during fire drops is approximately 105 kts. at an altitude of about 80 feet.  Fire retardant, foam, gel, or water flows from beneath the aircraft though Air Tractor's computer-controlled Fire Retardant Dispersal System.  This extremely precise fire gate system permits either 820-gallon salvo drops, or multiple drops with a constant flow of material at specific coverage levels over a prescribed distance.

The "Fire Boss" is designed to operate “loaded” from small community airports or remote gravel strips having a minimum runway length of 4,000 feet.  Once it has dropped its initial load, the amphibious aircraft can return to base for more water or retardant, or it can scoop water from nearby lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.  When fighting fires that have nearby water sources, the "Fire Boss" can deliver up to 20 loads and 14,000 gallons of water on a fire each hour.  Because of its speed, maneuverability and quick turn-around, the "Fire Boss" is especially effective when providing close ground support to local fire agencies.

About Air Tractor and Wipaire
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. They are used for agricultural purposes, fire fighting, narcotic crop eradication, fuel hauling in remote regions, fighting locust plagues, and cleaning up oil spills in coastal waters.   Air Tractor aircraft are found working not only across the United States, but around the globe in more than 30 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, North and South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and China.

Wipaire, Inc. is the largest aircraft float manufacturer in the world. It has been building aircraft floats and accessories from its factory in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota since 1960. It currently builds floats for a variety of aircraft types ranging from 2-seat Piper Cubs to 21-seat deHavilland Twin Otters.  Wipaire is also a full service aircraft repair/modification facility, Cessna Authorized Service Station, and Authorized Pratt & Whitney gas turbine engine overhaul & repair center.  The company's South St. Paul, MN facility performs many different services for aircraft including modification, maintenance, avionics, upholstery, and paint as well as complete service to all float products.

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Air Tractor 802F "Fire Boss" Air Tanker To Demonstrate Aerial Firefighting Capabilities At Sheppard AFB Air Show

Olney, TEXAS – Only a few weeks after wildfires burned a wide swath across North Texas, an innovative aerial firefighting single engine air tanker will fly from Minnesota to demonstrate its forest firefighting capabilities at the Sheppard Air Force Base Open House and Air Show October 1-2.  The Air Tractor® 802F "Fire Boss", modified with amphibious water scooping floats, will take on water at Lake Wichita and then make simulated fire drops during demonstration flights at the air show Saturday and Sunday.

The AT-802F is manufactured at Air Tractor, Inc. in the small town of Olney, located 40 miles south of Wichita Falls.  In service for more than 20 years, the AT-802F is the world's leading single engine air tanker (SEAT) for aerial firefighting and operates in countries around the world, from Australia to Israel.  The "Fire Boss" version of the 802F is equipped with a specialized set of Wipaire® amphibious floats for "touch and go" scooping of water from lakes, rivers, reservoirs and bodies of water near wildfires.  Fire Boss LLC, the exclusive marketing company for the Wipaire “Fire Boss” water scooping float system, will be flying its demonstration aircraft at the Sheppard AFB Air Show. 

There are 57 "Fire Boss" aircraft in operation throughout the world, with most of the aircraft working in Europe and Canada.  Aero Spray, Inc. of Appleton, Minnesota, is currently the only operator of the "Fire Boss" waterscooper aircraft in the United States.  Aero Spray currently provides aerial fire-fighting services to the several U.S. fire agencies including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The company’s fire-fighting fleet includes three amphibious AT-802F Fire Bosses and one land-based AT-802F single engine air tanker.

Air Tractor's AT-802F “Fire Boss” is renowned as a fast and highly maneuverable aerial firefighting aircraft that is both operationally effective and economical. It can be dispatched from an airport in less than 5 minutes with a load of retardant, gel, foam, or water. It can then scoop water from a nearby source and work a fire for up to 3 hours without refueling at an airport, forward attack base (e.g. gravel strip or road), or water base. When fire season is over, the 802F “Fire Boss” can be quickly converted to a land-based configuration and deployed in agriculture and forest protection/rehabilitation activities including aerial insecticide application, re-seeding, hydromulch applications, and fertilization. 

The aircraft is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67F turbine engine that generates 1,600-shaft horsepower. The AT-802F has a fiberglass hopper tank with a capacity of 820 gallons.  It can fill the tank in just 15-20 seconds as it skims across the water surface.  The "Fire Boss" has a gross take-off and maximum scooping weight of 16,000 pounds, an average empty weight of 9,000 pounds, and an average useful load of 7,000 pounds.  Cruise speed is approximately 150 kts.; air speed during fire drops is approximately 105 kts. at an altitude of about 80 feet.  Fire retardant, foam, gel, or water flows from beneath the aircraft though Air Tractor's computer-controlled Fire Retardant Dispersal System.  This extremely precise fire gate system permits either 820-gallon salvo drops, or multiple drops with a constant flow of material at specific coverage levels over a prescribed distance.

The "Fire Boss" is designed to operate “loaded” from small community airports or remote gravel strips having a minimum runway length of 4,000 feet.  Once it has dropped its initial load, the amphibious aircraft can return to base for more water or retardant, or it can scoop water from nearby lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.  When fighting fires that have nearby water sources, the "Fire Boss" can deliver up to 20 loads and 14,000 gallons of water on a fire each hour.  Because of its speed, maneuverability and quick turn-around, the "Fire Boss" is especially effective when providing close ground support to local fire agencies.

About Air Tractor and Wipaire
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. They are used for agricultural purposes, fire fighting, narcotic crop eradication, fuel hauling in remote regions, fighting locust plagues, and cleaning up oil spills in coastal waters.   Air Tractor aircraft are found working not only across the United States, but around the globe in more than 30 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, North and South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and China.

Wipaire, Inc. is the largest aircraft float manufacturer in the world. It has been building aircraft floats and accessories from its factory in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota since 1960. It currently builds floats for a variety of aircraft types ranging from 2-seat Piper Cubs to 21-seat deHavilland Twin Otters.  Wipaire is also a full service aircraft repair/modification facility, Cessna Authorized Service Station, and Authorized Pratt & Whitney gas turbine engine overhaul & repair center.  The company's South St. Paul, MN facility performs many different services for aircraft including modification, maintenance, avionics, upholstery, and paint as well as complete service to all float products.

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Air Tractor AT-802, the newest aircraft in the Israeli Air Force

August 31, 2011 - In December 2010, Israel suffered a dramatically experience with wildfires in his territory when 44 people was killed and 5.000 hectares was burned in The Carmel forest fire. 30 firefighting aircraft from 11 different countries like Greece, Russia, Spain, Cyprus, etc. were sent to help his friend country.

Once the wildfire was put under control, the Government of Israel took the decision to create the first fire-fighting aerial squadron in Israel. After a deep evaluation of all aircraft in the market, the result was seven AT-802 aircraft, an excellent choice in terms of purchase price, direct operating costs, performances, efficiency, new aircraft delivery time, spare parts supply and number of liters in the air at the same time: 21.700 liters.

This new squadron was named “Elad Riven” in a memory of teenage Fire Scout volunteer who was killed in the Carmel Fire. The fire-fighting squadron completed its first training exercise on 26 April 2011 following what it was officially established as Israel Air Force unit on 4 May 2011.

On 17 July 2011 a large wildfire erupted in the Jerusalem Forest moving within three hours only several hundred meters of Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem and provoking evacuation of that 45-acre campus. Institutional reaction was prompt and very professional – around 200 firefighters organized in 37 teams and supported by four AT-802 planes of “Elad” fire-fighting squadron opposed the disaster and managed to put it under control within hours.

The significant contribution of fire-fighting squadron and it’s AT-802 planes in extinguishing Jerusalem Forest wildfire was also priced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who thanked “Elad” squadron for its success in battling the blaze and demonstrating high-level of competency and readiness for performing Routine Security Measures operations.

The lessons learnt from Carmel wildfire were smartly implemented and the new AT-802 fleet is ready to fight against fires protecting the Israeli territory and their people.

 

This article has been reproduced with kind permission of Defence Greece. View the original article Here.

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Fire Boss LLC designates Air Tractor Europe “Top Fire Boss distributor”

by Igor Bozinovski, AgAir Update

Fire Boss, a private Minnesota-based company specializing in amphibious scooping aircraft floats, has recently named Air Tractor Europe S.L. of Valencia, Spain as the “Top Fire Boss Distributor.” The distinction marks the company as the world leader in distribution of Air Tractor AT-802 Fire Boss amphibious firefighting aircraft equipped with Wipaire designed and manufactured Wipline 10000 floats. Under the leadership of Vicente Huerta, Jr., President, and Hugo Arceo, Sales Manager, Air Tractor Europe S.L. has posted sales of 24 new AT-802 Fire Boss amphibious firefighting aircraft. In addition, they have seen the modification of ten AT-802 land planes into Fire Boss amphibians since 2005. All 34 of these aircraft are now in operation in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, and Macedonia, where they have been accumulating many flight hours while fighting wildfires and saving lives and property.

To mark their extraordinary accomplishments, Jamie Sargent, Vice President of Sales for Fire Boss LLC, presented Mr. Huerta with an outstanding award – a silver statue of an American eagle with a placard that reads: “Our sincerest appreciation to an extraordinary organization, Air Tractor Europe, for a job well done as the top Fire Boss distributor.” This elegant statue was graciously accepted by Air Tractor Europe S.L., where it is now a symbol of prestige and the professional success of its employees. The “Top Fire Boss Distributor” award also acknowledges Francisco Alandi and David Gonzalez for their exemplary efforts and contribution to Air Tractor Europe’s sales team. In October 2010, Fire Boss LLC renewed its Fire Boss distributor agreement with Air Tractor Europe for another term. Vicente Huerta and Hugo Arceo closed the deal with an order for six new Fire Boss systems, fifteen 1,600 SHP engine kits and one stall improvement array kit. The engines and stall kit are Supplementary Type Certificated created by Wipaire for AT-802 float and land planes. During the signing ceremony in Valencia, Jamie Sargent remarked that he was extremely pleased and proud to extend Fire Boss LLC’s business relationship with Air Tractor Europe. Jamie congratulated Vicente Huerta for his company’s remarkable success and ongoing commitment to the Fire Boss program.

Vicente Huerta prepared a prerecorded video message for presentation at Wipaire’s Annual Employee Meeting on December 23, 2010. In his message, Vicente congratulated Charles “Chuck” Wiplinger on his recent appointment as the new President of Wipaire, Inc. Vicente stated that Chuck’s new position as President will be a complete success for Wipaire and Fire Boss LLC because of Chuck’s experience and dedication to those companies. Vicente also remarked that Chuck is ready for his new challenge because he was taught by an excellent teacher … his father Bob “Wip” Wiplinger. Chuck Wiplinger is now the third Wiplinger family member to assume the role of company President, having succeeded his father “Wip”, the current CEO, and grandfather Ben, the founder of Wipaire.

Air Tractor Europe, a division of Avialsa, has been in business since 1965 and working closely with Fire Boss since becoming the first official distributor in 2005. With nearly 100 employees, Avialsa provides aircraft sales and rental, parts sales and technical and maintenance support for a wide range of aircraft. They have a fully authorized avionics and propeller shop encompassed in their 18,200 square feet of hangar space at Valencia Airport.

This article has been reproduced with kind permission of AgAir Update.

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Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss Delivered to Macedonia

by Igor Bozinovski, AgAir Update

February 28, 2010, Macedonia took delivery of its third Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss amphibious firefighting aircraft. The Fire Boss flew a nine-hour ferry flight from Valencia to Skopje only a few stops along the way. The last leg of the flight was from Brindisi to Skopje via Greek air space. The official handover of the aircraft to the Protection and Rescue Directorate of the Republic of Macedonia took place March 1, 2010. This completed Air Tractor Europe S.L., a Valencia, Spain-based company, its obligation to supply the three AT-802A Fire Boss aircraft. Compared to the previous two planes that were delivered on November 11, 2009, the third Macedonian AT-802A Fire Boss is more advanced - it is equipped with latest generation of the Fire Retardant Dispersal System (FRDS Generation 2) and a very important safety feature - an AmSafe airbag for the pilot. 

The Macedonian AT-802A Fire Boss aircraft were built by Air Tractor, Inc. They were modified into amphibians by Air Tractor Europe S.L. using the 10,000 series Fire Boss floats produced by Wipaire, Inc. of Minnesota. The total value of the contract for supplying Macedonia's Protection and Rescue Directorate with three AT-802A Fire Boss aircraft, related aircraft equipment, spare parts and training for pilots, engineers and mechanics was $10.3 million USD. Macedonian pilot training was divided into three phases (Italy, Spain, Macedonia), while the training of engineers and mechanics was organized into two phases (Spain and Macedonia). Macedonian personnel have already successfully completed the out-of-Macedonia phases of their training and are scheduled to complete the Macedonian location of their training by mid-June 2010. After this is complete, the Protection and Rescue Directorate will be ready to start operating its three AT-802A Fire Boss aircraft.

While in Italy, Macedonian pilots learned to fly amphibian planes and the techniques for taking off and landing on water. They received world-class training from the famous Aero Club Como that was established in 1930 and has specialized in operating amphibious planes ever since. While in Italy, the Macedonian pilots flew amphibian Cessna 172 planes and some flew the larger Cessna 208 Caravan amphibian. The second phase of the pilot training was conducted from several locations near Valencia. While in Spain, Macedonian pilots received familiarization training in dual cockpit AT-802s equipped with conventional landing gear and the amphibian AT-802 Fire Boss. The Macedonian pilots were the first pilots in Europe to experience the advantages of the dual cockpit AT-802 Fire Boss that recently became available in Europe in April 2010. Apart from training pilots, Air Tractor Europe also conducted the training of Macedonian engineers and mechanics.

The Macedonian AT-802A Fire Boss fleet will serve within the newly created Aviation Unit of the Protection and Rescue Directorate and will use Skopje - Alexander the Great International Airport as its home base. Ohrid St. Paul the Apostole International Airport, located in southwest Macedonia, will be used as an alternative and forward operating base during the summer firefighting season. The Protection and Rescue Directorate’s intentions are to use its AT-802A fleet for conducting firefighting operations, reconnaissance flights for early spotting of wildfires, agricultural crop spraying, aerial hydro-mulching and hydro-seeding, as well as for conducting regular flights and exercises to keep pilots current. For the eventual use of smaller paved and unpaved alternative airfields available across Macedonia and for performing agricultural operations, the Protection and Rescue Directorate has taken delivery of the conventional landing gear and dispersal equipment for each aircraft. The planes will primarily be used within Macedonia, but will also be available to countries in need of their firefighting capabilities, especially to the Balkan states of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

This article has been reproduced with kind permission of AgAir Update.

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Air Tractor Europe introduces dual cockpit AT-802A Fire Boss

by Igor Bozinovski, AgAir Update

In March 2010 Air Tractor Europe S.L., based in Valencia, Spain, became the first European operator of the dual cockpit Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss that is the first EASA-certified dual-cockpit Fire Boss. While the single cockpit Fire Boss has been in service since 2003, its dual cockpit version has emerged just recently as a direct result of the growing need for a dedicated trainer that will support the ongoing global operations of the 50+ Fire Boss fleet.

Originally, the aircraft was built in 2009 as a standard dual cockpit AT-802A. It was transfered to Spain where Valencia-based Avialsa T-35 S.L. transformed it into an amphibian Fire Boss. Avialsa T-35 S.L. is an operator of 25+ AT802s for firefighting and JAR-145 maintenance. It is a sister company of Air Tractor Europe S.L. Avialsa T-35 S.L. coordinated with Air Tractor and the Minnesota-based float producer Wipaire, Inc. to produce the dual cockpit amphibian. These companies developed the first dual cockpit Fire Boss from a 2004 dual cockpit AT-802. That aircraft has been certified by the FAA and is now operational in the U.S. as a training aircraft with Fire Boss, LLC, a sister company to Wipaire, Inc. This aircraft has also been leased to the Appleton, Minnesota-based, privately owned company Aero Spray, Inc. for aerial firefighting contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Washington and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources. The second dual cockpit Fire Boss produced went to Tasmania-based R&M in 2009. It has been combating forest fires throughout Australia. R&M’s aircraft is not equipped with dual controls or a rear instrument panel and is not used for training. The Avialsa dual cockpit AT-802A Fire Boss is the third aircraft of that type in operation worldwide.

Avialsa’s dual cockpit AT-802A Fire Boss is equipped with full dual-control cockpits with front and rear instrument panels. This makes the aircraft an exceptional training platform for all current and future European Fire Boss pilots. Apart from necessary modifications to the wings and tail section, the aircraft’s factory-installed 1,350 SHP P&WC PT6A-67AG engine was replaced with a more powerful 1,600 SHP PT6A-67F engine. This change was implemented because the -67 powered Fire Boss has often been considered underpowered, especially when operating in high-density altitude conditions where fires are often fought. The introduction of the -67F engine is a good match for the big amphibian Fire Boss with the extra power ensuring a significant reduction in scooping distances, as well as an increase in climb rates and cruise speed. The aircraft is equipped with 1,438-liter (380-U.S. gallon) fuel tanks that provide for a safe four-hour fuel range. However, the dual cockpit Fire Boss has one similarity with all single cockpit Fire Boss aircraft, its all-aluminum Wipaire Model 10,000 series amphibious water scooping floats, which incorporate retractable landing gear.
Apart from Air Tractor Europe S.L. and Avialsa T-35 S.L. pilots, the honor to test fly the brand-new dual cockpit AT-802 Fire Boss was given to the Croatian Air Force that already operates a fleet of six AT-802s for firefighting (one land-based and four amphibian single cockpit AT-802As and one land-based dual cockpit AT-802A Fire Boss). April 27, 2010 Captain Milan Dosen, an experienced Croatian pilot and commander of the Zadar/Zemunik-based Air Tractor unit, flew the dual cockpit Fire Boss in Valencia. Following his backseat flight, he reported the aircraft fulfilled entirely his expectations with inflight performance and especially with the training capabilities it offered.
Captain Dosen was also impressed by the excellent front and side visibility from the backseat for the pilot/instructor and by the well-equipped rear instrument panel.

Reflecting state-of-the-art technology in computerized fire gate controls, the AT-802 is an ideal firefighting aircraft with the ability arrive at fires quickly and the maneuverability to put them out accurately and efficiently. The well-known reliability of its P&WC PT6A turboprop engine, low maintenance and operating costs, ruggedness and safety features have made it increasingly popular among Mediterranean and Balkan countries that have faced waves of disastrous wildfires over the previous years. Largely in part to the Spanish company Air Tractor Europe S.L. and its salesman, Hugo Arceo, the Air Tractor AT-802 has become a synonym for the best-buy aerial firefighting asset in the Balkans.

Already equipped with a fleet of four single cockpit Fire Boss aircraft and with only one land-based dual cockpit AT-802 available for training new pilots, the Republic of Croatia is an AT-802 user that could be very much interested in introducing the dual cockpit Fire Boss into service.
Serious interest in the dual cockpit AT-802 Fire Boss is also expected from Macedonia and Montenegro, countries that are operating small fleets of single cockpit Fire Boss amphibians and are lacking in dual cockpit training capabilities for those planes. Other potential interests for the AT-802 Fire Boss is expected to come from Cyprus that has already purchased one land-based AT-802 in 2009. Other Balkan countries, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, have all shown increased interest in the AT-802 firefighting aircraft.

This article has been reproduced with kind permission of AgAir Update.

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BIA Fireboss Makes Waves with New Amphibious Single Engine Airtanker

The impressive debut of the twoseater Airtractor 802F Fireboss has Washington State and BIA aviation experts talking. The Single Engine Airtanker (SEAT), equipped with amphibious water floats, and capable of delivering retardant, gel or water, is the only SEAT of its kind in the federal aviation program. Contracted and managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and paid for by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WA-DNR), this aircraft shows promise as the next aircraft of choice for supporting areas with plentiful water sources in Indian country.

On September 9, 2009, representatives from three cooperating agencies(BIA, WA-DNR and FS) met for an after action review to discuss the Fireboss’s future. Centrally housed at Deer Park, WA, the amphibious airairtanker is quickly gaining the favor of ground resources that need air support immediately. From a runway,the SEAT can take off fully loaded and head directly to an incident. When it’s time to refill, amphibious floats provide an additional option to refill from larg water sources. Gliding on water at 75 miles per hour, the Fireboss can refill its 800-gallon tank in 8 seconds, making turn-around times fast. To add to its versatility, it is equipped with larger fuel tanks that stretch flight times up to four hours while displaying increased agility following hilly terrain. The airtanker has heads nodding in approval. WA-DNR Northeast Assistant Regional Manager Chuck Johnson is enthusiastic about the success of the Fireboss for other reasons. “Though we shoulder the cost of the airtanker, it’s much easier for the BIA to handle the management and contracting of the aircraft. It’s a smart agreement that works well for all agencies.” The BIA is also pleased with the interagency participation the agreement makes possible because it allows reservations like Colville to have immediate air support if needed.

Managers are looking at the safety history of the airtankers for further evaluation. Of the almost 50 hours of flight time during the summer, the SEAT had only one breakdown due to a faulty part. After replacing mounting brackets, it returned to operations the following day. No other incidents occurred throughout the summer.

Pilot Jesse Weaver says flying the Fireboss “is a kick in the pants and a lot of fun. There’s just nothing else like it out there.”

After watching the success this summer, BIA Fire Aviation Program Lead Joel Kerley looks forward to seeing more of these in the future. The BIA plans to put a four-year contract up for bid next year for the Fireboss and to maintain the agreement with WA-DNR. The BIA is currently seeking locations throughout the U.S. willing to host additional Firebosses. “When more airtankers become available, additional contracts are likely,” says Kerley.

For further information, contact Joel Kerley at 208-387-5371.

Originally published in "Smoke Signals", December 2009. View Online

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One of a Kind Plane and Pilot

by Marc Mullis, AgAir Update

Ever since its introduction by Wipaire in 2003, the Fire Boss has been a big hit in the aerial firefighting industry. Basically an Air Tractor AT-802F fitted with a highly modified set of amphibious floats based on Wipaire’s Twin Otter floats, the Fire Boss fills a niche in the specialized form of aerial firefighting known as scooping. Scooping is when an aircraft skims across a body of water to fill its tank with a load of water. The process, which is not quite flying, yet not really landing, requires a great deal of skill and concentration on the part of the pilot. When the right conditions are met, scooping can be very effective in putting a lot of wet stuff on the hot stuff. With a suitable body of water close by, the turnarounds can be as short as two to three minutes. I once flew on a fire next to the Columbia River in Washington State with a Canadair CL-215. That scooper was delivering twenty loads of water per hour, while I was struggling to get one load of retardant per hour.

With the Air Tractor constant flow FRDS firegate installed, the Fire Boss maximizes the use of retardant dispensed on the ground due to the precise, constant retardant flow rate delivered by the gate. The combination of the Wipline Floats and Air Tractor’s constant flow FRDS firegate, transformed the rugged AT802F aircraft into arguably the lowest cost, most effective aerial firefighting solution in terms of cost per gallon of retardant delivered.

There are currently more than 50 Fire Bosses in operation worldwide. They have been accepted and have become very popular in western Canada, several European countries and Australia as one of the primary tools in the aerial firefighting fleet. Despite this widespread use, it may be surprising to learn that there have only been two Fire Bosses on contract in the United States since the program began. One reason is that U.S. fire agencies have traditionally relied on land-based air tankers. Another reason for the Fire Boss’ slow start in the U.S. is the reality that there are few places in the country that suffer wildfires and have suitable water sources for scooping operations. Two areas that do meet the criteria are Washington State and Minnesota. These are currently the only areas that employ the Fire Boss in their fire suppression activities. Fire Boss LLC, a sister company to Wipaire Inc., has been created to explore opportunities in other parts of the country and to promote the Fire Boss for use by other fire management agencies at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels.

The only domestic Fire Boss operator to-date has been Aero Spray headquartered in Appleton, Minnesota and owned by John Schwenk. John is no stranger to aerial firefighting, having been active in the Single Engine Air Tanker program for many years. His entry Fire Boss contracts came about because of a close working relationship with Bob Wiplinger, CEO of Wipaire, Inc. and Fire Boss, LLC. John’s home state is known as The Land of 10,000 Lakes (actually 11,842 that are over 10 acres) and it would be the perfect place to prove the Fire Boss. Minnesota has a short but usually intense spring fire season that occurs after snowmelt and before green-up.

None of Aero Spray’s pilots were seaplane rated, so John’s first step was to get them up to speed for flying off the water. Both experienced AT-802F SEAT pilots, John and Jesse Weaver attended a flight school in Florida that specializes in seaplane ratings. After completing this requirement, John purchased a Scout on amphibious floats so they could build flight time to meet the insurance and fire agencies’ criteria for piloting the Fire Boss. Jesse took the Scout to his home state of Louisiana that winter. He spent months splashing around the bayous and lakes that cover the southern part of the state building time and gaining confidence on the water.

Once Jesse had enough flight time logged it was time to move up to the Fire Boss. This was an intimating step from the diminutive Scout to the 16,000-pound beast with a cockpit two stories high above the ground. The training program was paced and meticulous, but in time, Jesse was feeling right at home. In the spring of 2007, the Fire Boss was tested on a state contract in Minnesota. Although the contract did not produce much flight time, it was a good training experience for all involved. The aircraft was also used on a state contract in 2008.

The 2009 fire season was the Fire Boss’ first federal fire contract. After completing the Minnesota contract in the spring, the aircraft was moved to Deer Park, Washington where it served a 75-day assignment. The aircraft was contracted and managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), with funding provided by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WA-DNR). This arrangement worked well for all agencies involved, as the aircraft was used on BIA reservations as well as state and federal lands.

At the end of the contract, SEAT manager Bruce Jourdain reported that the Fire Boss had flown on 24 incidents for four separate agencies for a total of 49.57 flight hours. There were a total of 179 drops made in the following amounts: 121,900 gallons of water, 12,750 gallons of Thermo-Gel and 4,850 gallons of retardant. A typical mission saw the aircraft depart its land base with a load of Thermo-Gel and once that load was delivered to the fire, scooping operations commenced. A federal contracted aircraft is not allowed to scoop from a body of water after having retardant in its tank. Whenever Jesse flew out of the Omak Tanker Base delivering retardant to a fire, the hopper had to be cleaned before the Fire Boss could go back to scooping. All agencies agreed that the Fire Boss was a great success and are looking forward to its return in 2010.

I asked Jesse about some of the differences between flying the Fire Boss and a standard wheel-equipped AT-802. He told me the hardest thing he had to adjust to was the shear height above the ground or water while seated in the cockpit. The aircraft sits about two feet higher on land than it does in the water.

Another big difference between the two types is that the Fire Boss has retractable landing gear. As one Canadian Fire Boss pilot demonstrated last summer, if you attempt to scoop with the wheels extended you will wind up inverted in the water. For this reason, Fire Boss pilots are required to attend marine survival training. In this program the trainee must be able to demonstrate the ability to extricate from the cockpit while upside down under water. Jesse completed a course provided by the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. Fire Boss pilots are also required to wear a life jacket during operations. The aircraft are equipped with a small oxygen tank intended to allow the pilot to breath for a short period while immersed.

Scooping operations are pretty straightforward. The pilot selects a body of water that is at least one mile long, oriented into the wind and a minimum of four feet deep. A normal approach is made and once the aircraft is on the water, the probes that scoop the water are extended and full power is applied. It takes twelve to fifteen seconds for the hopper to fill, at which time the probes automatically retract and the aircraft can be flown off the water.

The Fire Boss is a very heavy aircraft, with its empty weight of 9,000 pounds tipping the scales almost 2,000 pounds more than its wheeled brethren. To avoid exceeding the aircraft’s certified gross weight of 16,000 pounds, the pilot must select the volume of water to be scooped. When that amount is reached, a computer shuts down the process. As fuel burn lightens the aircraft, the load is steadily increased. The aircraft Jesse flies has 380 gallons of fuel capacity and a maximum foam capacity of 78 gallons. With foam concentrate onboard, he starts out scooping over 500 gallons and winds up taking on a full 800-gallon hopper. With the big fuel tanks, he can stay on the fire scene up to four hours.

The early Fire Bosses equipped with the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67AG engine were underpowered, especially during high-density altitude conditions where fires are often fought. Recently Pratt & Whitney introduced a more powerful version of the engine and labeled it the F-model. With 300 additional horsepower, it is a good match for the big amphibian Fire Boss. The extra power meant scooping distances were reduced, climb rates were increased and the cruise speed was upped. Jesse says with the PT6A-67F engine, he experienced climb rates of in excess of 500 feet per minute and cruise speeds that almost match those of a conventional-gear AT-802F equipped with the PT6A-67AG. He stated that with the bigger engine, the airplane could really do the job it was intended for.

It is possible that there could be two more Fire Bosses in the U.S. fleet for the 2010 fire season. The only hurdle may be finding qualified crews to pilot the scoopers. There just aren’t that many pilots around with the credentials and experience to meet the contract and insurance requirements. As a result, Fire Boss LLC is planning to create a Fire Boss training center at the South St. Paul airport in Minnesota. The Fire Boss Academy will provide in-aircraft flight training from an initial float rating through to a Fire Boss endorsement. It will also incorporate advanced aircraft system and aerial fire-fighting simulation technology.

The Fire Boss has been a great success story and is here to stay. There is no doubt that their numbers will grow worldwide. As they are accepted by the different agencies, more will be contracted in the U.S. Now I’m waiting to see how long it takes Air Tractor and Wipaire to put amphibious floats on the AT-802’s big brother, the AT-1002.

This article has been reproduced with kind permission of AgAir Update.

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Republic of Cyprus takes delivery of AT-802F

Originally Published in AgAir Update 03/01/2010

Air Tractor’s AT-802F single engine air tanker is gaining popularity among firefighting services in Mediterranean and Balkan countries that have battled waves of disastrous wildfires in recent years. Hugo Arceo, Sales Manager of Air Tractor Europe, reports the Republic of Cyprus took delivery of its first AT-802F single engine air tanker in October 2009.

One of the latest European Union countries to join the AT-802 fire-fighting club is Republic of Cyprus. The delivery of one land-based AT-802 (registered FD-1, ex N41692, c/n AT802-0335) two-seater to the Cypriot Department of Forest, an institution that is part of the Cypriot Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, took place in October 2009 and was in line with the Contract signed with Spanish company "Air Tractor Europe S.L." in February 2009 after public tender process has been successfully completed during 2008. The aircraft is already operational with the Cypriot Department of Forestry for firefighting and spraying operations. The aircraft is based at Nicosia International Airport, about 20 kilometers from the north coast of Cyprus. Larnaca International Airport, on the southeast coast of Cyprus, is its alternate FOB.

“We are very proud of being able to sell additional planes inside the European union which will be used for fires in Cyprus and neighbor countries and for agricultural purposes,” notes Arceo.
In addition to the Republic of Cyprus, the coastal countries of Montenegro and Macedonia on the Adriatic Sea also purchased AT-802F “Fire Boss” amphibious firefighting aircraft during 2009. Each country took delivery of two aircraft – Montenegro in June 2009 and Macedonia in November 2009. A third AT-802F Fire Boss is scheduled for delivery to each country in early 2010.

The Cyprus AT-802F Fire Boss purchase follows a Croatian government decision to expand its aerial firefighting capabilities by supplementing its single land-based AT-802F with acquisition of four Fire Boss amphibious aircraft and one land-based 802AF during 2008. As a result, the 855 Firefighting Squadron, a dedicated Croatian Air Force aerial firefighting unit, now operates a fleet of six AT-802Fs from Zadar-Zamunik Air Force Base. In addition to these Balkan operations, the governments of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece have also expressed interest in purchasing AT-802F aircraft.

This article was compiled with the help of Air Tractor, USA and Igor Bozinovski.

This article has been reproduced with kind permission of AgAir Update.

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Platoon of Air Tractors

ON TASKS, professionally and with great enthusiasm

During the first season, last year, the strongest accent has been put on the security. They have
flown a lot and have extinguished huge fires. "You are alone in the plane. There is no one who can warn you that you have done something wrong. Appropriately, there is no place for errors with us. We have landed 50 and 60 times per day in hard conditions, something for which one needs a lot of power and strong concentration"

A platoon of Air Tractors is also within the Fire-fighting Squadron with which we began a series of
articles about the 93rd air base Zemunik. Five new Air Tractors 802 A Fire Boss were purchased
last year. Until then Croatia did not have such type of airplane. They were arriving gradually during
tourist season and it was a must to introduce them into operational use and use them in fire-fighting activities over a short time. They were introduced into operational use by Captain Milan Došen, Commander of the Air Tractors platoon in the Fire-fighting Squadron, and by his three colleagues Tomislav Vacenovski, Darko Kučer and Ante Ljubas. We can freely say that putting out fires with Fire Boss began with them. All planes have been purchased as amphibians though one of them has been temporarily left with classic landing gear due to the need for performing training flights and training of the personnel. The training was to be performed fast and to that end pilots have seen help in the their existing experience with Air Tractors. Four pilots received basic training in Spain, and the first flight by Fire Boss was executed by Commander of the Air Tractor platoon Captain Došen. The principles of extinguishing fires with Fire Boss is identical as with the Canadairs that are already in service with the Fire-fighting squadron. The difference is in the way of collecting the water.

Over a very short time young pilots of the Fire-fighting Squadron of the 93rd air base Zemunik
have made a great job. Last year they introduced new aircraft into service and without any
problems have extinguished fires on equal level with the mighty Canadairs. Without difficulties,
without complications, and with great enthusiasm and professionally.

Self-training in real condition

With all aircraft being single-seaters, as twin-seater does not exist, the pilots had no other possibility than self-training. "It's about self-training. There is no flight instructor that flies with you during the training", explains Captain Došen. Since the principles of collecting water is identical with the one of the Canadairs, the colleagues flying with those planes have give them a number of advices how the water is collected, how the sea conditions are assessed.... "The four of us were to execute that in practice. We had 40 hours of training and we started from normal towards the worst conditions", recalls Došen. He expresses gratitude to members of the Special Operation Unit that have been with them and have secured them during the training. "They have been always ready to help us. Despite we never had been suspicious on our own abilities, after all we are military pilots, we were aware that it is a new experience for us and that pre-caution should be on appropriate level". When compared to Canadair, it is still a small aircraft, and appropriately the pilots flying on them must know to assess the limits that cannot be passed. During the first season, last year, the strongest accent has been put on the security. They have flown a lot and have extinguished huge fires. "You are alone in the plane. There is no one who can warn you that you have done something wrong. Appropriately, there is no place for errors with us. We have landed 50 and 60 times per day in hard conditions, something for which one needs a lot of power and strong concentration".

The experience accumulated over the previous two fire-fighting seasons, and it is the same with the Canadairs, has shown that it is much more the better when you are attacking the fire in a group. There were no problems in coordinating Fire Bosses and Canadairs.

Every other year on that aircraft is a new experience. You can always better and you can always more, but you must know its final limits. Exactly that can be achieve with training and experience. We will not exaggerate if we say that they did a top-quality job during the first season. "We knew before that the Air Tractor is a very good plane, and we also received a confirmation for that in practice during the last two fire-fighting seasons. With acquisition of Fire Boss Croatia did a really fine and useful job", Došen pointed out. "That is a plane that is worldwide known as money maker. It is a chip one and for little money you can bring big quantity of water over the fire. Because of that it is in use and over a short time has became very popular in countries in some parts of the world", explains Došen who flies Air Tractors for eight years. Air Tractor 802 A Fire Boss is one of the best selling fire-fighting planes in the world. Its maintenance is also not expensive and it is worth to note that it is one of the most reliable aircraft for pilot.

Pilot assessment is the most important

From the "old school", that was made of four pilots, only two have now left on Air Tractors. Meanwhile, they managed to train two Fire Boss pilots and at this moment they are training further four pilots. They are pilots that have finished training on Pilatus. Captain Došen explains the method of training. In addition that they have to receive obligatory minimum of 60 hours of basic training for fires, they should fly an additional minimum of 300 hours on land version of the Air Tractor in order to be able to transfer to single-seat Fire Boss. "We must not take a risk", says Došen who is also a flight instructor. "After those 300 hours we make an assessment whether a pilot can fly Fire Boss or not". Naturally, their training as well as of their colleagues on Canaders has to be carried out in real conditions - on fire sites. There is no other way to train a fire-fighting pilot. Because it is not satisfactory just to throw a water and hit the target. You must assess what and how needs to be done when up to ten aircraft are around in a small space in order to know to position yourself on a way that you don't interfere other aircraft.

Based on experience from the previous two years, Captain Došen points out that Fire Boss has shown itself perfectly. "We, off course, cannot work in some conditions in which Canadairs can do, but thanks to our coast, which is truly phenomenal, we can always find a location for scooping water. Maybe it is not a minute away, but certainly it is five minutes away from the fire". The experience accumulated over the previous two fire-fighting seasons, and it is the same with the Canadairs, has shown that it is much more the better when you are attacking the fire in a group. There was no problems in coordinating Fire Bosses and Canadairs. They learned to take advance. "We are little slower, thought we adjust over the fires", explains Došen. Even when helicopters are in the fire area, there are no problems. "We are pilots and we always make agreements in the air". Air Tractor is also perfect for throwing retardant. Unlike in other countries, in our country we still don't use it much. Commander of Air Tractor platoon notes that aircraft is easily controllable but adds that pilot must be able to assess the situation in any moment. He concludes that once the pilots get familiar with aircraft behavior, than the problems are gone. Except for pilot training, the previous two fire-fighting seasons have been a test for Fire Boss technical capabilities. It was a time during which training of technicians for maintaining and operating of planes has been conducted. It was also a time during which search for the most appropriate model for technical maintenance of the planes have been conducted, having in mind the specifics of the Adriatic sea. It was all conducted with more than excellent cooperation with the manufacturer.

Young pilots of the Fire-fighting squadron of the 93rd air base Zemunik managed to do an exceptionally great job in an uncommonly short time. They introduced new aircraft into operational use, they trained themselves and their colleagues and were putting out fires already last year with new aircraft, without any problems, on equal terms with mighty Canaders. Without any problems, without complications, with great enthusiasm and professionally. In doing all this, except for their own safety, they were to care about the safety of the planes. It was not a simple task, but was exceptionally performed. Members of this squadron, one of the youngest, proved that they are very serious, professional, and despite being very young, that they can do a great job without problems.

SOURCE: HRVATSKI VOJNIK - Croatian Soldier

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Fireboss Featured in Washington News

The Fireboss was recently featured on KREM.com in an article called "DNR uses new weapon to fight wildfires "

Click Here to read this excellent story and view videos.

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International Demand for Fire Fighting Floats

Randy Juen and HugoArceo CampoyWipaire president Randy Juen, along with Haig Hagopian, vice president of international sales, made a visit to Hugo Arceo Campoy, sales manager and Vicente Huerta Dominguez, president of Air Tractor Europe S.P.A in Valencia, Spain. On July 23rd Air Tractor Europe S.P.A. placed the largest order in Fire Boss history for 13 sets of Fire Boss floats. In addition, Conair is also requesting quotes for six Fire Boss aircraft for operations in Canada.

We are excited with the growing acceptance in the aerial fire fighting community. Juen comments, “It is difficult to measure how many millions of acres are preserved by the Fire Boss since it is designed to extinguish the fire before it is able to destroy personal property and our valuable natural resources.” Fire Boss is committed to preserving the world’s precious resources and keeping our world green.

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Wipaire “Fire Boss” Federally Carded 04-19-08

Wipaire of South Saint Paul, Minnesota would like to announce federal approval of their 802 Air Tractor “Fire Boss” as a certified fire fighting, water scooping aircraft.  The 802 “Fire Boss” is now certified to fight wild land fires on any federally owned or managed land in the United States.

The Wipaire “Fire Boss” aircraft has been operating for the last six years on fire fighting contracts in Canada and Europe.  There are currently six “Fire Boss” aircraft operating in Canada and twenty-three aircraft operating in Europe, including Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy.  For the last two years, the “Fire Boss” has also operated on state contracts in Minnesota as well, protecting the public and its properties from the devastating affects of wild land fires.  The “Fire Boss” can now operate as an initial fire attack aircraft on federal, state and private lands to protect public lands and people as well as private property from forest fires.

The premier advantage of the Air Tractor 802 “Fire Boss” over other contemporary water scooping aircraft is its comparatively inexpensive procurement and operating costs.  While being inexpensive to purchase and operate, it still provides critical initial attack fire fighting capability in that it can scoop 800 US gallons of water in 12 seconds with a single pilot and very simple maintenance requirements with the added reliability of the Pratt and Whitney PT-6 Turbine Engine.  This new technology aircraft provides the fire fighting industry with a most effective aircraft of excellent dispatch reliability.  For more information on this superior water scooping fire attack tool, contact Wipaire customer service at 651-451-1205 or Fire Boss, LLC at info@firebossllc.com

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Fire Boss LLC Announces America's First 'Seat' Rated Fire Boss Pilots.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Fire Rescue Expo - November 9, 2006

This weekend on a sun dappled lake in Minnesota another fire fighting milestone was reached. America's first Single Engine Attack Tanker (SEAT Carded) pilots received their flight training and check rides in the Fire Boss, an innovative fire fighting aircraft made in America.

Based on the Air Tractor AT-802F airframe, the Fire Boss is the result of years of design, testing and now global operations with a track record unequalled in fighting the wildland/urban interface fires.

Combining the benefits of amphibious floats with a unique scooping system, this aircraft can reload on-the-fly with up to 820 gallons of water in less than 14 seconds. Chief pilot and training director Mark Mathisen says, "This delivers cycle times and gallons per hour quantities far exceeding other aircraft at a fraction of the cost, both in acquisition and operating expense."

Operating from nearby lakes, rivers, or fire bases, the Fire Boss provides a new approach to the critical initial attack phase of spotting and stopping fires at their early stages. According to former Fire Boss product manager Stan Ross, "What we have learned in the past few years throughout Europe and Canada has brought new insights into how we can attack wildland fires early and more importantly, how we can provide a potential life saving tool to support ground based fire crews when these fires grow into killers."

"We see the ultimate role of the Fire Boss as an orbiting rescue platform that can be called in at a moment's notice to prevent loss of life when winds shift and ground crews are cut off from their escape routes. We never want to hear of another fire fighter sacrificing their life when we have the ideal tool available to prevent it."

Fire Boss, LLC serves the global aviation industry through a strategic relationship with Wipaire, Inc., the world's foremost manufacturer of aircraft floats and designers of FIRE BOSS, a unique single engine attack tanker built to fight forest and wildland/urban interface fires. Capable of rapid cycle times carrying over 800 gallons per cycle this innovative amphibious aircraft incorporates a scooping system to collect a full water loads from lakes or rivers in less than fourteen seconds. With airspeeds of 150 mph the FIRE BOSS delivers superior fire fighting capacity unequalled by aircraft costing twenty times its $2.5 million acquisition cost.


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