This year has been a busy wildfire season for Washington state and for most of the other Northwestern states. An unusual lack of rain and higher than normal temperatures have handed our state and federal firefighting partners a demanding mission to respond to countless Wildfires this summer.
To support this firefighting effort, Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has established an Air Retardant Tanker Base on Olympia Regional Airport. The tanker base is located on the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Aviation Division’s ramp. The mission of the tanker base is to provide fire retardant for several different types of aircraft. These aircraft include large airtankers, single engine airtankers, and helicopters equipped with tanks.
The first aircraft to use the tanker base was a Bombardier Q400-AT, the most advanced emergency response airtanker available today. The aircraft is ideally suited for crisis operations due to its size, speed, performance and safety. The Q400-AT has a maximum capacity of 2,600 gallons of retardant, foam, or water. It is certified for use on unpaved airports and has a cruise speed of 370 knots when loaded.
Another aircraft projected to use the tanker base is the Convair CV580. It is a turboprop version of the highly successful Convair 340/440 series of passenger and freighter aircraft. The CV 580 has a capacity of 2100 gallons of retardant.