The Fireliner is capable of carrying up to 15,150 liters of fire retardant fluid but is also equipped to function as a conventional transport vehicle, with capacity for up to 72 passengers.
According to the province’s Minister of Production, Natural Resources and Land, Miguel Mandrille, a new hangar will be built by the government to house the aircraft, which will serve as a base for the refilling and maintenance of the aircraft, as well as a location to train affiliated crew. Las Termas De Rio Hondo airport was inaugurated in 2012.
“We evaluated all the large airtankers and chose the 737 as it is the same aircraft type used by many airlines and is the most capable,” said Director of Civil Aviation Jorge Azar. “The 737 is the fastest airtanker, and it when it’s not fighting fire, we can use it to move passengers and its dual use makes it the best value for our government.”
Coulson Aviation says that the aircraft is only the second of its type to be sold to an international government agency, following the purchase of a Fireliner by the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service in May 2019.
The province of Santiago del Estero spans a total area of 136,351 km², and has a dry, subtropical climate; the province’s is north dominated by the semi-arid Gran Chaco region, which features dry thorn scrubs and low quebracho trees.