Small, forward-attack aircraft are the most effective tool for rapid and direct initial air attack.
Single Engine Air Tankers can be en route to a fire faster than LAT and VLAT aircraft, which is a critical capability for containing fires while they are still small. A group of AT-802F SEATs can be loaded and dispatched from small, regional airports which are often nearer to fires in the wildland urban interface. Once over the fire, AT-802F aircraft can drop water, gel or fire retardant to control the situation until fire crews arrive.
Air Tractor AT-802F aircraft are much less expensive to contract and operate than LATs and VLATs. Fire agencies can afford to deploy more of them. This, in turn, improves the response time, effectiveness and reliability of initial response while expanding operations across a fire-prone region. Simply put, the AT-802F is purpose-built for efficient and cost-effective aerial firefighting.
LATSs and VLATs also have their place in the wildfire response “tool kit”. But they come with high costs and slower response times. Initial attack with a group of AT-802F SEATs can be more effective than larger air tankers and far more economical in many situations. An AT-802F Fire Boss, for example, can deliver almost 1/2 the payload of a twin-turbine engine water scooper for about 1/10th of the capital cost and 1/5th of the operating cost.
As fire seasons span more months and massive wildfires occur more frequently, choosing the right approach can make a vital difference in protecting lives, property and forests.