Single engine air tanker en route to Australia

Air Spray SEAT
File photo of one of Air Spray’s Air Tractor 802s. They acquired this one earlier in 2015. Air Spray photo.

As we are writing this Saturday evening, a single engine air tanker (SEAT) is en route from the United States to Australia. An Air Tractor 802, Tanker 849, N30723, departed from Santa Maria, California on September 30 at 8:33 a.m., and after stopping in Honolulu and the Marshall Islands is now on the way to Honiara, Guadalcanal with an expected arrival time of 9:12 p.m. MT, October 3.

On the 13-hour leg to Honolulu it flew at 5,000 to 8,000 feet at a ground speed of 175 to 219 mph.

We have heard but can’t confirm that fuel can put in the hopper (retardant tank) on a SEAT to extend the range. Obviously extra fuel is stored somewhere to enable the 13-hour flight.

You can track the SEAT at FlightAware.

(UPDATE October 5, 2015)

We found out today that the SEAT was operated this summer by Aero Spray, a company headquartered in Appleton, Minnesota that operates several Air Tractor aircraft for spraying crops and fighting wildfires. They were the first company in the United States to operate an Air Tractor on floats. Laura at the company told us that they leased the Air Tractor Fire Boss, Tanker 849, from Pays Air Service in Australia, and it is being returned to the owner.

In an earlier comment on this article, Bean said the Air Tractor website mentions a ferry kit that enables 800 gallons of fuel to be carried in the hopper. And at a person identified as “AT502B” wrote:

AT 802’s are available with a ferry kit, which enables you to fill the water tank-or Hopper- up with fuel, thus giving you an additional 800gal of fuel. Add this to the standard fuel tank size of 336us gal- gives you some serious fuel capacity for a single engine aeroplane. An AT 802 burns approx. 75-85us gal per hour at a ferry speed of 200mph- so it gives you a pretty good range as well.

The aircraft arrived in Queensland, Australia Sunday, October 4 at 7:53 p.m. MT according to Flight Aware, after a flight of almost seven hours from Guadalcanal.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Willard.

Typos, let us know HERE. And, please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

5 thoughts on “Single engine air tanker en route to Australia”

  1. I’d worry as much about where hey put the life raft and survival equipment as much as the extra fuel. Would be interesting to hear if they could put fuel in the hopper tank. It would make sense. Long flights over unfriendly terrain makes for a pretty stressful days in a SINGLE engine aircraft.

  2. Air Tractor web site and a couple of ferry pilots say they have a ferry kit that allows 800 gal of fuel in the retardant tank.

  3. We updated the article with information about the owner and operator of the aircraft, as well as confirmation about how the ferry range was increased.

  4. In addition to the hopper seal kit for filling the hopper with fuel, the FRDS Gen II firegate controller has a Ferry Fuel mode that hydraulically locks the doors from opening. The seal kit prevents leaks, but the firegate hydraulics can overcome the seals. Probably a good thing if you needed to ditch fuel in an emergency. The Ferry Fuel mode prevents that from happening on accident.

  5. There’s not a great deal to worry about when that single engine is a PT6A-67F.

Comments are closed.