In our article, we will introduce various fire planes used in America and their capacities. The Forest Service uses many types and sizes of aircraft to manage wildfires. Some of these planes belong to the Ministry of Forestry, while others are leased. The aircraft operate according to the contract procedure. Military aircraft can also be activated during times of high fire activity.
When planes are not used to support wildfires, they can be used for other natural resource management activities, such as aerial surveys on wildlife populations and forest health.
Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT)
Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) can provide up to 3000 liters of fire retardant to support firefighters on the ground. These small aircraft can be reloaded and operated in areas larger air tankers cannot.
Aircraft types: Air Tractor AT-802.
Large Air Tankers
Large Air Tankers (LATs) can provide 7.500 liters to 15.000 liters of fire retardant to support firefighters on the ground.
Aircraft types: P2V, HC-130H, BAe-146, MD-87, C-130Q, RJ85, C-130 H & J equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Suppression Systems (MAFFS).
Very Large Air Tankers (VLAT)
Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs) can provide more than 30.000 liters of fire retardant to support firefighters on the ground. Aircraft Type: DC-10.
Water Scoopers are amphibious aircraft that scrape the surface of a body of water, fill the water into a tank on board, and then set it on fire.
Aircraft types: Bombardier CL-415 and Air Tractor Fire Boss.
Smokejumper aircraft send parachute smoke jumpers and cargo for the first strike and extended support against wildfires. Each aircraft can carry eight to ten Smokejumpers and their initial rigs.
Aircraft types: DeHavilland DH-6 300 series Twin Otter, Shorts Sherpa C-23A and SD3-60, Dornier 228 and CASA 212.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems (UAS) have great potential for use in forest fires and natural resource management. In contrast, unauthorized public UAS flights over or near wildfires threaten the safety of air and ground firefighters, and users are encouraged to "know before they fly".
Air Control Module/Front Plane
Air control modules/frontplanes coordinate, direct and evaluate air tanker operations. The air control module communicates with/front aircraft pilots and/or air tactical controllers, firefighters on the ground, other firefighters and air tanker pilots. They emit white smoke to show air tanker pilots where to put the fire retardant.
Aircraft types: Beechcraft King Air 90 and Beechcraft King Air 200.
Air tactical or air attack aircraft coordinate aerial firefighting aircraft over wildfires. They provide vital eyes in the sky for firefighters on the ground and ensure safe aviation operations.
Aircraft types: Twin Commander 500 and 600 are the most common.
The Forest Service uses aircraft for a wide variety of other tasks in managing public lands. These tasks include forest health and wildlife research, law enforcement, infrared data collection, fire detection, and personnel and cargo transportation.
Aircraft types: Cessna 206, Aero Commander 500, King Air 200, DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver, Piper Super Cub and Cessna 185.