Little more than a month after wildfires burned a devastating swath across the Possum Kingdom Lake area and other parts of North Texas, representatives from the Fire and Emergency Response Division of the Texas Forest Service recently came to Possum Kingdom Lake to watch a demonstration of the Texas-made aerial firefighting single engine air tanker.
The Air Tractor® 802F “Fire Boss”, modified with amphibious water scooping floats, made water drops over the lake as a group of about twenty Texas Forest Service personnel watched from the shore. Fire Boss LLC, the exclusive marketing company for the Wipaire “Fire Boss” water scooping float system, arranged the demonstration for the Texas Forest Service.
The AT-802F “Fire Boss” is ideally suited for wildland urban interface fires, such as those that destroyed more than 140 homes and burned tens of thousands of acres at Possum Kingdom Lake during April, August and September of this year.
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.
The amphibious air tanker 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 “Fire Boss” 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.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 well regarded among wildland firefighters 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 body of water and attack 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 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.