• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

New Firefighting Planes (F-45 Firecatcher and F-25 Super-Pac conversion)

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,064
Reaction score
1,053
Interesting news in FlightGobal about a company that plans to develop a couple of new (or newly adapted) firefighting aircraft.


The simpler design is the F-25, a firefighting adaptation of the Pacific Aerospace Super-Pac, with a capacity fo 2500 liters/kg, scheduled for availability in 2021.

The more interesting one for us is the F-45, a clean-sheet single-engine aircraft billed as a “oversized Cessna Caravan.” First version is a firefighting model with a capacity of 4500 liters/kg. That's supposed to be ready for flight testing in 2023 and certification in 2024. Sounds like a fuselage has already been built but the rest of the aircraft is still in work.

They're also talking about a cargo version with room for three LD3 containers and a passenger version with 19 seats. That's exactly in the same class as the new Cessna 408, but they're trying to do it on a single PT6-67F engine (1800 hp) versus two PT6-65 (2x1100 hp) in the Cessna.
 
Last edited:

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,828
Reaction score
295
The US government is giving away C-130s to firefighting depts. MAFFS is $4 million but it's 3000 gallons.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
2,010
Reaction score
705
Also, I am not sure that a heavy laden single turbine fire Bomber will be fairly popular...

Those things tend to fly trough very complex mass of air where engine redundancy is seldom seen as a waste.
 
Last edited:

TomS

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,064
Reaction score
1,053
The US government is giving away C-130s to firefighting depts. MAFFS is $4 million but it's 3000 gallons.
There is still a use case for smaller tankers that are a lot cheaper to fly and maintain than a C-130 (and non-US markets where C-130s aren't being handed out for free). They're chasing the S-2T and to some extent the CL-415 with a plane that should be easier to maintain than the former and cheaper than the later.
 

Apophenia

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jul 25, 2007
Messages
2,546
Reaction score
834
Agreed TomS, there is a huge gap between the SEATs (Single-Engined Air Tankers) and LATs (Large Air Tankers) like the Hercules. I'd say that there is room for a 'SmAT' - bigger than the AT-802F but much smaller than a Herc.

The US government is giving away C-130s to firefighting depts. MAFFS is $4 million but it's 3000 gallons.
I know that it's a bit OT but wanted to comment on MAFFS II. This system works well as temporary role-specific kit for ANG aircraft but does it make sense for a dedicated firefighter conversion? (And, BTW, a new MAFFS II from UAC/Blue Aerospace is more costly for civilian operators than that $4 million unit price for government.)

Compare MAFFS II with the old Aero Union (now Coulson) RADS installation:

Rough Cost - MAFFS II: ~$7M+ ... RADS-XXL: ~$3.5M
Retardant -- MAFFS II: 3,5k Gal. ... RADS-XXL: 4,330 Gal
Flow Rate -- MAFFS II: 700 gps ... RADS-XXL: 1600 gps
Net weight - MAFFS II: 15k lbs .... RADS-XXL: 2,3k lbs

The key benefit of MAFFS is being RO/RO and requiring no real modification to the C-130 airframe. The downsides are limited capacity and dictating a larger crew size. Again, well-suiting the ANG but not necessarily civilian air tanker operators.

The Coulson RADS–XXL has a smaller crew size but installation is a bit more involved. Still, the only permanent airframe mod is a drop slot in the belly (with only skin cuts, no major structural elements). Unlike the RO/RO MAFFS, the RADS hopper takes 30 minutes to unload (no real problem for civilian aircraft under contract). Once RADS is removed, the belly slot can be planked over for normal commercial transport flights.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,828
Reaction score
295
Agreed TomS, there is a huge gap between the SEATs (Single-Engined Air Tankers) and LATs (Large Air Tankers) like the Hercules. I'd say that there is room for a 'SmAT' - bigger than the AT-802F but much smaller than a Herc.

The US government is giving away C-130s to firefighting depts. MAFFS is $4 million but it's 3000 gallons.
I know that it's a bit OT but wanted to comment on MAFFS II. This system works well as temporary role-specific kit for ANG aircraft but does it make sense for a dedicated firefighter conversion? (And, BTW, a new MAFFS II from UAC/Blue Aerospace is more costly for civilian operators than that $4 million unit price for government.)
Right. All of those non-governmental firefighting departments out there that operate air tankers.
 

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,828
Reaction score
295
Yep, contractors and non-US government agencies (although the majority of them seem to fly Canadair flying boats).
And I've yet to see any private contractors executing government contracts not being able to claim reimbursement
for specialized equipment like retardant tanks.

Also, MAFFS pricing is a little..weird at the moment because of everyone's favorite contracting complication:
data rights.

https://digitalguardian.com/blog/govt-contractors-allege-air-force-stole-ip-proprietary-data

The ANG is paying $6 million for I-MAFFS which is much nicer than its predecessor in every respect.
Though I accept that the current restrictions of foreign sales opens a door for other concepts.
 
Last edited:

marauder2048

"I should really just relax"
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
2,828
Reaction score
295
And I've yet to see any private contractors executing government contracts not being able to claim reimbursement
for specialized equipment like retardant tanks...
Well sure, air tanker contractors fold their investment costs into their bids. They wouldn't be in business long if they couldn't recoup costs as part of their profits. Or am I missing your point here?
They are specifically allowed to recoup the costs of their specialized equipment so the claim about
discounting or lack thereof for said equipment is irrelevant.
 

iverson

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 24, 2009
Messages
333
Reaction score
131
The Drone Amplified Ignis firefighting drone system: a brilliant idea, thoughtfully executed by an American company, now sadly being scuppered by what appear to be pretty pointless "security" concerns and are obviously political posturing:

Ignis:

Politicking:
 

Hobbes

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
828
Reaction score
192
A ban on Chinese drones is not a ban on all drones.
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
967
Reaction score
460
They are trying to ban civilian drones from Class F air space (fire, ambulance, police and other emergency use). Yes, I know that the USA is the only country that does not use the ICAO "Class F" designation, but I am too lazy to look up the American equivalent.
Civilian airplanes have long been banned from flying over forest fires, police helicopters, air ambulances, etc. When approaching airports, ATC always give priority to emergency aircraft. Only airliners are allowed to fly over forest fires, but airliners cruise tens of thousands of feet above fire-fighters.
Media helicopters are a nuisance, but their professional pilots can be trusted to stay above emergency aircraft. Even the largest news networks understand that interfering with emergency helicopters will get them banned from flying in that block of air space ... for many years.

Sadly, amateur-flown drones cannot be trusted to stay out of the way of emergency aircraft. At least one fire-fighting airplane has collided with a small drone in American air space. Fortunately the drone was too small to significantly damage the emergency airplane.

In government (or Coulson contractors') hands, drones are effective at locating fires while not risking pilots' lives. Drones can also fly ridiculously close to fires to pin-point them exactly. In the next few years, we will soon see larger drones dropping specialized retardant on small fires on steep slopes, etc.
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
967
Reaction score
460
Also, I am not sure that a heavy laden single turbine fire Bomber will be fairly popular...

Those things tend to fly trough very complex mass of air where engine redundancy is seldom seen as a waste.
Dear tomcat,
Twin-engined redundancy is not as simple or safe as it first sounds.

Guess how I know? Hint: look up King Air crash, Pitt Meadows, B.C., 2008, August 3.

The first thing any fire-fighting pilot is going to do - after suffering engine failure - is drop his/her entire load of retardant NOW! Not 5 seconds from now or over an unpopulated area, etc. He/she is going to jettison the load NOW! it does not matter whether the aircraft has one engine of four engines. He/she needs to jettison that load NOW to improve climb performance.
Few light twins climb very well on only one engine. They only climb well with a fresh engine still running and "god's gift to aviation" at the controls.
Large corporations (think large oil companies) and governments tend to prefer twin-engined, twin-pilot airplanes because they pay lower insurance premiums.
OTOH the lowest bidder is far more likely to fly single-engined attack tankers (SEAT) modified from crop-dusters.
Also consider that only Frist-World governments can afford large fleets of multi-engined fire-fighting airplanes. Every Second-World country struggles to afford quick-install, fire-fighting kits for the handful of C-130 Hercules that their air force can barely afford to fly.
 

Apophenia

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jul 25, 2007
Messages
2,546
Reaction score
834
... Yes, I know that the USA is the only country that does not use the ICAO "Class F" designation, but I am too lazy to look up the American equivalent...
I believe that the FAA equivalent of CAR's Class F airspace is SUA (Special Use Airspace). Parts of FAA and Transport Canada wording on special use airspaces are identical (swipe-copy-paste?) but CAR Class F can be for 'Special Use Restricted' or 'Special Use Advisory'.
 
Top