17 October 2010

Firefighting Planes

This year's Festa al Cel had a good representation of utility planes and helicopters with an interesting display coming from 2 firefighting planes.

The cute little Air Tractor is an extremely versatile aircraft, and can be configured to land on water or land. They can be used for crop dusting, seeding, firefighting, aerial spraying and there's now even a dinky military version to provide cover for ground troops.

The cute little single-seater Air Tractor

In Spain, Air Tractors are used by the Bombers de la Generalitat (Catalonia firefighters), and are usually the first response to bush and forest fires because of their ability to land in smaller lakes to scoop up water.

Able to fly low over a fire, the Air Tractor delivers an effective spread of water to douse flames

Affectionately called Zapatones (boots) by their pilots, these nimble aircraft effectively deliver loads of water over fires in quick succession, providing both extinguishing capabilities and cover for firefighters on the ground.

The Canadair CL-215T Grupo 43 delivers a bigger quantity of water per load, but requires larger and longer stretches of water on which to operate.

Canadair CL-215T Grupo 43

Also known as "Super Scoopers", their tanks can hold 5,300 litres (5,400 kg) of fluid which can be picked up in 10 seconds from the time the plane lands in the water and skims along at 75–80 knots (140–150 kph).  That's impressive!

Scooping up water.  The overflow spills out of the aluminium tubes located just behind the wheels on both sides.

They can land on water or land, and are capable of delivering 75-125 loads of water to a fire every day, depending on the proximity of the water source to the location of the fire.

Delivering a big water-bomb

The Canadair is renown for its ability to be very stable in gusty conditions which are often found above large fires.  They operate well at low speeds with a stall speed of 125kph.

 A low-level farewell pass

You can read more posts on the Barcelona Airshow by clicking on the label "Festa al Cel" below.