Colorado shows off new multi-mission aircraft

The state of Colorado is showing off their two recently purchased multi-mission, high-tech, single-engine, fixed wing aircraft that can be used in a variety of roles for fighting and managing wildfires. The Colorado Firefighting Air Corp, working under the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC), bought two Pilatus PC-12 airplanes configured and outfitted by the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).

The aircraft have three sensors, one for infrared and two for color. They can map wildfires and detect a campfire from 30 to 45 miles away.

Last July we asked DFPC Director Paul Cooke how the aircraft will be used. He replied:

When presented to the Governor and Legislature other potential uses of the multi-mission aircraft were discussed, including:

• Transportation of critical medical personnel, supplies, and equipment
• Insect damage and forest assessments for the Colorado State Forest Service
• Office of Emergency Management: disaster assessments/reconnaissance
• Department of Mineral and Geology: mine assessment/compliance
• Dam safety and inspections
• Environmental monitoring and compliance
• Search and rescue missions
• Avalanche control

VIP and prisoner transport are performed by the Colorado State Patrol.

The aircraft will be Part 135 Certified and we expect they will also be ATGS platform carded. However, it will not perform Lead Plane functions and it is not currently planned to serve as an ASM.

Colorado mulit-mission aircraftWe last wrote about the aircraft in September when the agency acquired one on a temporary basis.

10 thoughts on “Colorado shows off new multi-mission aircraft”

  1. Very nice. If the State really wants to get multi-use out of these aircraft, tank it. Sounds as far out as using a jumbo jet to drop retardant? Under fuselage tank, 300 gallon capacity. N3Ns in the inception carried 100 gallons and paved the way for the air program. Is it better to deliver 300 gallons on a fire in fifteen minutes or 3000 gallons (maybe) in three days? The public has little or no idea of how many gallons a tanker is dropping. In the court of public opinion an air tanker is an air tanker. This approach tanking the PC 12 F is called obvious utility.

  2. Johnny, your fingers missed an F key. I think you meant “obvious futility”.

    There are so many things wrong with this suggestion, I couldn’t begin to know where to start.

    1. Start Chris Start. The word “FIRE” sort of through me off. Eight other agencies in-line to use the new airplane. That doesn’t include the politicians that need to travel. I am interested in the direction of the CFAC and what they will bring to fire aviation. There I go again “FIRE”. I like innovation and out of the box thinking. Hopefully the CFAC will venture into a fire aviation program that will be a model for other states.

  3. Makes no sense tanking a PC 12, but they’ll probably try to do it. More taxpayers $$$ wasted. I also disagree that 300 gallons is a useful load for an aircraft, it just isn’t effective – good on a Helo though. Just no common sense on this one, and NO an air tanker isn’t just an air tanker, that’s this public opinion.

    1. I think Johnny’s being ironic. PC-12 is a good aircraft, though. I hear Oregon’s going after more SEATS BTW. i actually se a reduced need for Fed tankers in our future..

  4. PC 12 as a initial attack resource is probably a lot out of the “box”. I am a strong believer in Dr. Gabbert Rx for containment. Until a resource, ground or air actually applies an agent the fire will continue to progress as fuel, terrain and weather dictate. The number of Federal heavy tankers in the future will probably remain about the same, 12 daily. This number will probably go to zero available for new breaking fires (UTF) as the season heats-up. As the P2V’s leave the scene newer (older) tankers will fill the contract gap, maybe? The days of an adequate number of Federal heavy tankers are gone, history. Cal Fire holds the burden of initial air attack in California on all lands as does the Oregon Department of Forestry within their State. It will be most exciting to see what the Center of Excellence will craft for Colorado. Mr McCoy, your inset picture a turbo (turbine) Ag Cat dropping water, interesting. Is this a SEAT on contract in your part of the country.

    1. No just a big fan of the “Cat”, worked around one for a few seasons as an ag plane..
      This one is, as I understand, located in North Carolina.. In Ne Oregon we are Air Tractor 802

  5. Grumman Ag Cat has an interesting history. It was the first (designed for pilot survival) production ag plane. Years in production, many accidents, no fatalities.
    Design for the rice country. Sacramento Valley, Ca. starting about now top dressing bare ground with fertilizer. Seven days a week, 100 take offs and landings per day (10 to 12 hours) on narrow rice dikes, never turned the engine off. Usually with planting this was a full month in the “seat”. Very rugged machine. The best part was fire season was just ahead.

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