Aero-Flite has announced the US Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) on the Dash 8-400AT airtanker.
This approval allows US registered Dash 8-400ATs to fly aerial firefighting missions across all states, operated by Aero-Flite.
Aero-Flite will be operating two Dash 8-400AT airtankers in the US in 2023, under a long-term, multiyear contract with the state of Washington. In addition, the airtankers will be available for operation through all US agencies, including the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and individual state authorities.
Chris Niemann, General Manager at Aero-Flite, said: “The Dash offers greater flexibility and responsiveness than larger airtankers, while still providing a comparable payload capacity. It can operate from shorter runways at higher elevations, positioned in smaller airtanker bases located closer to where wildfires occur, meaning a fast response to the fire and back. Plus, they burn significantly less fuel than a Type 1, larger airtanker, resulting in much lower operational costs while delivering a similar punch to the fire.”
He added: “We feel this airtanker type fills a growing need across the country, providing a cost-effective option that can be shared between agencies and states, responding to wildfires in any jurisdiction, no matter the geography or tanker base infrastructure. It is agile, flexible, and powerful, providing advanced avionics, for safer operations, that older model airtankers don’t offer.”
Aero-Flite’s crews have performed extensive training in anticipation of this certification, with seven pilots preparing to step into operations as soon as certification was granted. Training incorporates ground school, type training, simulator training and a specialty on-wing training program.
Now, with this FAA approval, Aero-Flite plans to expand the fleet of Dash 8-400AT airtankers in order to respond to the need for additional air support to fight wildfires.