The world fleet of firefighting aircrafts seems to be too small in view of the catastrophic fires in the USA and in Australia in the last year continuing in 2020. Often the water bombers are quite aged aircraft which are living now a second life in a new role – something, fore what they were not designed for.
The age of the aircrafts is one of the most pressing problems. Few spare parts and service partners for the maintenance are one side of this problem. The danger of hidden cracks in the aircraft structures are annother. It is not just an assumption, that some accidents with water bombers are caused by fatique. Water bombers are large aircraft operating in a low level and with extreme maneuvres. A former passenger airplane or military transporter has been designed to fly constantly straight on – not for low-level flights like a B1 or a F-15E bomber. It’s structure is now loaded with G-forces, it have not been planned for. Also the cargo is heavy – 100 percent load factor instead of a moderate avarage 50 – 70 percent in the service as an airliner.
The result is clear: Ther must be developed a successor for the aged aircrafts in the water bomber fleet. This is a challange for us to start a conversion project with a modern and younger aircraft from the market.
The Do-228 is a versatile and handy transportation aircraft having multi functional capabilities. But until today no one designed a conversion into a firefighting aircraft. We are currently developing a tank and water drop system for the DO-228.
The Boeing 737 aircraft family do have the same reputation as the legendary Douglas DC-3/C-47 did have in the times of the 1930ies and ’40ies. She is everywhere and she is the most important transport aircraft on the planet. Most airlines operate her. But despite that there are just a small number of firefighting conversions existing. She has proven that she also can fulfill this role. So we are working on a conversion concept for this aircraft.
Small Aircraft Firefighting Device (SAFD)
SAFD is a concept for converting small one engine transport aircraft temporary into firefighters. The idea behind is, that any plane that drops water is a help. And there are many of small planes everywhere in the world: Aircraft for parachutists, small cargo airplanes etc. We are currently cooperating with a small aircraft designing company in North Germany with a first tank equipment project.