October 3, 2020 | 1:45 p.m. MDT
Three companies are collaborating to design and manufacture two new versions of single engine air tankers (SEAT).
A UK company, Arcus Fire, is coordinating the projects which are designed and built by two New Zealand companies, Flight Structures Ltd and Pacific Aerospace.
Flight testing is scheduled to begin soon of the smaller of the two aircraft, the F-25, which is capable of carrying up to 660 gallons. It is a modification of Pacific Aerospace’s Super-Pac XL utility aircraft. The companies are working on CAA/CASA/FAA Certification and expect the air tanker will be available in 2021. It will be powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-140A engine.
Construction is in progress of a clean-sheet larger SEAT, the F-45, with a 1,188-gallon water or retardant tank. It will have a high wing and a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F engine. Initially it will be a Restricted Category aircraft, but eventually will be certified in the Standard Category with both cargo and passenger variants. The first flight is expected in 2023 with deliveries planned to start in 2024.
The cargo version will have a large cargo door with a flat floor cabin that can take three LD3 shipping containers with a 5,500 lb maximum payload capability. The aircraft will have a cruise speed of up to 190 knots (218 mph) and a 1,000 nautical-mile maximum range. The 19-passenger cabin will have full stand-up headroom and double abreast single-aisle seating.
FlightGlobal reported the pricing will be $4.2 million for the F-45 and $2.2 million for the F-25.
Neither the F-25 or the F-45 are amphibious, but they can be outfitted with a scooping tube, or as Erickson describes it on their Air-Crane helicopter, a “scoop hydrofoil attachment”. A Blackhawk operated by HP Helicopters also has one of these devices.