Single engine air tanker damaged while scooping in Alaska

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Air Tractor 802A Fire Boss
File photo of N80166 on the Snake River Fire.

A single engine air tanker (SEAT) was damaged as it scooped water while working on a fire north of Fairbanks, Alaska July 14, 2020. Thankfully the pilot was not seriously injured.

The aircraft is an Air Tractor 802A Fire Boss, N80166, operated by Dauntless Air.

I reached out to the company’s CEO, Brett L’Esperance to get more information:

After almost three hours fighting fire from the same scoop site, one of our Fire Bosses “caught an edge” at the beginning of a scoop and got pulled hard right.  Pilot tried correcting and almost pulled it off, but did end up running up on the bank of the scoop site and got stuck in the mud.

Airframe is fine, right wing was dinged by a tree on the edge of the lake and we’re assessing damage to the floats.

Pilot was not even bruised, but did scratch his thumb climbing out if the aircraft.

Below is the press release from the BLM Alaska Fire Service:

“(Fairbanks, Alaska) – No injuries were reported after an aircraft incident during suppression efforts on a wildfire about 120 air miles north of Fairbanks Tuesday afternoon. A BLM Alaska Fire Service dispatch center was notified at 3:56 p.m. of a incident involving a AT-802A Air Tractor Fire Boss working on the 15-acre Birch Creek Fire about 17 miles northwest of Circle. The Single Engine Air Tanker was one of six aircraft – four Fire Boss water scoopers, a helicopter and an air attack airplane guiding the suppression efforts – aiding eight BLM AFS smokejumpers on the ground. The aircraft was scooping out of an unnamed body of water about 2-3 miles north of the fire when the incident occurred. Two qualified emergency medical technician smokejumpers assessed the condition of the pilot, who was the sole occupant of the airplane and didn’t identify any injuries. The pilot was flown via BLM AFS helicopter to Fairbanks for further assessment at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and released. The aircraft was deemed inoperable and will be removed from the scene after further investigation into the incident.

“The aircraft is owned by Dauntless Air Inc. of Appleton, Minn. and is one of four SEATs contracted by BLM AFS for Alaska’s fire season. All four were working on the fire at the time of the incident. The Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services and the National Transportation Safety Board were notified.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bob. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

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