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.