Kishugu Aviation aims to provide the optimum mix of aerial resources available on the market that suits our client requirements.
According to Emile Grobbelaar, CEO of Kishugu Aviation, the Air Tractor (AT) 802, Single-Engine Aerial Tanker (SEAT) is a very important part of Kishugu’s offering as a highly effective and sought-after aerial firefighting resource. Also referred to as the “Bomber Aircraft”, it is specifically designed for fast and effective rapid initial – and extended attack on wildfires.
The AT802 has served with distinction on the front lines of wildfires around the world and for close to 10 years in South Africa. Kishugu Aviation owns and operates the only four AT-802s in South Africa, which they supply to the Forestry Industry and the South African Government’s Working on Fire (WOF) Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Grobbelaar says the Bomber is a fast, manoeuvrable aircraft that is operationally effective and economical. “This remarkable aircraft carries up to 3,104 litres of water, mixed with fire suppressants, reaching a cruising speed of 250 km/h for rapid response to a fire line.”
He explains that what makes the Bomber aircraft so unique and fit-for-purpose is that it is fitted with a computerised Fire Retardant Disposal System (FRDS) that can be programmed to discharge its load in pre-set volumes and intervals. “This enables the pilot to optimise water and retardant dispersal and makes precision drops on several critical points on fire. But it can also drop a high volume once-off load of more than 3,000 liters.”
“Once it completes delivery of its load, it returns to the airfield at speeds up to 350 km/h to refill. The refill operation takes about two minutes, after which it returns to the fire line”, he explains.
The AT 802 has an endurance of about four hours and, depending on the proximity of the runway, it is capable of delivering roughly 18,000 litres of water and retardant per hour onto a fire. Today, this fleet of fixed-wing water bombers fly an average of 350 hours during active firefighting operations annually.
Kishugu introduced AT 802’s to the South African market in 2013. Prior to that, they made use of PZL-Mielec M-18 Dromader and Ayres Thrush Aircraft – essentially previous generation crop sprayers, adapted for aerial firefighting.
Grobbelaar says Kishugu Aviation imported its fleet of AT 802’s from Spain and deployed all SEAT pilots to acquire type specific ratings in either Spain or Brazil. Pilots also received specialised air and ground training in wildland firefighting, which includes fire behaviour, communication skills and techniques, and maintaining situational awareness. Kishugu’s minimum requirement for entry-level SEAT pilots is a Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL), a total of 1,000 flying hours as the Pilot in Command (PIC); at least 500 hours turbine and 300 hours taildragger experience.
Our Bomber pilots all sing from the same hymn book: “Being a Bomber pilot is the most rewarding job. It combines action and adrenaline with precision, teamwork and a real sense of purpose.”